This savoury pie is an Italian Easter tradition. It takes a little time to roll out each piece of pastry thinly, and then layer them into the cake tin, but this recipe only requires six layers - some versions require many more.
- 450 g plain flour
- sea salt
- 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 90 ml warm water
- 1.2 kg silverbeet
- olive oil
- 1 white onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed with the blade of a knife
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 7 eggs
- 300 g ricotta
- 120 g grated parmesan
- 3 marjoram sprigs, roughly chopped, plus extra leaves for sprinkling
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour
To make the pastry, place the flour in a mound on a clean, flat work surface. Form a well in the middle, sprinkle some salt and pour in the olive oil. Start kneading, adding a bit of warm water as required to achieve a smooth and soft dough. After about 5 minutes of kneading, divide the dough into 6 balls, making one larger than the others (this will be the first layer at the base of the pie). Flour the bottom of a ceramic container, and place the 6 balls of dough in it. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
To make the filling, clean the silverbeet by removing the white stalks, roll the leaves up tightly and cut into them into thin strips. Heat 60 ml of olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and stir with a wooden spoon. Just as the garlic starts to change colour, discard it and continue cooking the onion until soft and translucent, stirring regularly. Add the silverbeet to the pan, season with salt, and add the parsley. Mix thoroughly and continue to cook over a low heat for 3 minutes.
Drain the silverbeet mix and place in a bowl. Break 2 eggs and beat them with a little salt and pepper. Pour over the silverbeets and add the ricotta and all but 1 tbsp of the parmesan cheese. Stir in marjoram.
You can start building the pie now, flattening the layers of pastry one by one as you need them. With a brush, oil the base and sides of a 28-30 cm springform cake tin.
Flour the working surface. Take the bigger ball of dough and first and with your fists before using a rolling pin to flatten it until it is as thin as possible.
Line the base and sides of the prepared cake tin with dough, letting it overhang the sides.
With a brush, gently oil the surface of this first layer of pastry. Roll out another thin sheet of dough and place it on top of the first one without squashing it. Again with a brush, delicately oil the surface. Roll out the third sheet of dough and place it on top of the second. This one must not be oiled. Instead, place the silverbeets and cheese mixture on top, and uniformly flatten the surface. Sprinkle with more marjoram leaves.
With the back of a tablespoon, make five wells in the ricotta and silverbeet mix. Break 1 egg into each hole, being careful to keep the yolk intact. On each egg, pour a few drops of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and scatter the remaining parmesan cheese on top.
Now you are ready to close the pie. Roll another sheet of very thin dough and cover the filling with it. Brush the surface with oil and place the remaining two sheets on top in the same manner. Fold the overhanging pastry over the top to seal the pie. Prick some holes on the surface with a fork, being careful not to break the eggs and brush the top with a little more olive oil.
Bake in an oven at 180°C for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown.