Torta Pasqualina: Traditional Italian Easter ‘Cake’

April 1, 2010

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An early Happy Easter to you all! I’m definitely eager to put my feet up after my stint as a domestic madwoman on speed. I just realised that churningoutposts 4 days in a row when you’ve never done it before was more exhausting than I thought. Photos! So many damn photos!*rocks back and forth*

The hardest thing was trying to write different posts without sounding a) repetitive, b) like a stiff and c) like a w*nker. So forgive me if I verge on b) and c) because when I write a post straight after writing an essay (where you’re trying so desperately to sound mildly intelligent), it takes a while to shake the ‘academic’ out of me and get back to normal.

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But I digress (ugh, wankerism #1!).

From Liguria and the Piemonte region of northern Italy, I give you a Torta Pasqualina. Gorgeous name isn’t it? Mine looks a little ugly with warped out puff pastry sheets but I assure you it’s fabulous for something that is simply pastry, veges and cheese.

The key is to use the best and most freshest ingredients possible, especially fragrant herbs and fresh ricotta. For the love of gawd, do not use supermarket commercial-made ricotta, which is more wet slop than cheese and the taste is just putrid. It’s worth paying a tiny more for fresh ricotta from a deli or you could simple make it yourself and the taste would be far better and more importantly it’s dry and perfect to cook with. Trust me, I tried once when I was at my laziest and I paid the price.

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Normally you’d make your pastry and roll it out as thinly as possible and make a few layers but traditionally there are 33 layers in this ‘pie’ to represent the age of Jesus when he was crucified. I can’t imagine myself rolling out 33 portions of pastry. My lazy ass just wouldn’t allow me on this day so I used my favourite puff pastry and also because the flavour works so beautifully with the cheese. For the veges I used English spinach though silverbeet or cavolo nero are the more traditional choices. I also love making it with leek and fennel on the odd occasion as these are simply, vegetables of the gods.

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 I could never make holes big enough to fit my extra large eggs!

This is everything an Easter dish should be, rustic, homely, comforting and traditional. It also strikes the perfect balance to the mass chocolate orgy that you’d no doubt be participating in after dinner.

And on a final note, have a fabulous Easter!

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Torta Pasqualina


Ingredients

500g English spinach, roughly chopped (can substitute with cavolo nero or silverbeet)
6 eggs (2 for the ricotta, 4 for the pie)
80g finely grated mozzarella (or grated fresh parmesan)
400g fresh ricotta
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped (can be substitute with marjoram)
olive oil for brushing
sheets of frozen puff pastry (I used about 3 to cover a 20cm springform tin)

1 egg for the eggwash

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cook the spinach in a large pot of salted, boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Drain, then refresh in iced water and drain again thoroughly. You want to extract as much water as you can so the pastry doesn’t get soggy.

In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, fresh ricotta, mozzarella, oregano and season with sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.

In a 5cm deep, 21cm round tart tin with a loose base (a 20cm springform tin will also work), lay down sheets of pastry, brushing a little olive oil between each sheet and making sure to allow enough excess pastry over the sides to cover the pie.

Fill the tart with half of the spinach and then the ricotta mixture, levelling the top. Make 4 indentations in the ricotta and carefully break 1 egg into each hollow, making sure the yolk remains intact. Carefully top with remaining sprinach, then fold the pastry sheets over the top to cover and join up in the middle.

Lightly beat another 1 egg and brush over the tart. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.

 

Print this recipe!

 

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Thailand Breeze June 5, 2010 at 04:52

This is a great recipe that's simple to make.

I like your tips about using real fresh herb and deli cheese. That definitely can assure your home-made quality.

Thanks for sharing.

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Simon@theheartoffood April 4, 2010 at 01:33

This looks like a great dish to have over Easter. Well, any time really but since it's Easter, why not now!

Totally agree with you regarding the ricotta. Can't say that I'm a fan of supermarket variety ricotta.

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jbaez April 3, 2010 at 17:28

Ciao! I'm Genovese (in Liguria) and your version of Torta Pasqualina is so much easier! I've been making the dough by hand and to find the philo pastry puff is brilliant!!! Well done! Compliementi!!

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Countess_Dee April 3, 2010 at 10:16

Hi there,

This is the first time i came across your blog! i think its AWESOME! hahaha.. i'm an international student from singapore currently in adelaide and I have currently ran out of ideas of what to cook! hahahha..

so maybe i'll try a few of your stuff! You've gotten a new fan! LOL

I might be adventurous enough to try the Dobos Torte over term break. I MIGHT. lol.. once i figure out the temperature for a stove oven. all my bakings seemed to have failed ever since i moved to a house with a stove oven. =( any tips?

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penny aka jeroxie April 2, 2010 at 12:24

you are on a roll! I do agree about the ricotta. More yummy posts please :)

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Mark @ Cafe Campana April 2, 2010 at 10:52

Mmmmm so eggy and good.

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bake in paris April 2, 2010 at 03:33

Very appertizing savory tart! This is an excellent choice for easter feast :-)

Sawadee from bangkok,
Kris

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 03:58

Thanks so much Kris! Hope you have a wonderful Easter!

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Jennifer April 2, 2010 at 02:03

Thanks for your reply! Do you think that pre-baking would be a better idea than pre-assembling, bringing to room temp, then baking right before dinner? I'm worried about the crust getting soggy either way… Hmm.

It looks to lovely pass up, so I'm GOING to make it work, one way or another!

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 03:54

Hi Jennifer, you're very welcome :)

I think pre-baking and warming it up when you need it, will definitely be better. It will 'dry' out the veges and ricotta mixture and because the eggs are cooked, there's less chance for the pastry to get soggy and soft quickly. Warming the pie up again before dinner should be enough to make the pastry crispy again.

I think if you assemble and bake it much later, the pastry will be more soggy from the 'raw' filling which means it won't bake and rise as much. But I'm sure you'll make the pie fabulous either way. Hope you enjoy it!

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Jennifer April 2, 2010 at 15:19

Thanks! I think I'm making your hot cross buns, too – they look BEAUTIFUL. Definitely a new fan of your blog (although converting everything from grams and ml to cups and etc. will be a challenge!)

Have a wonderful Good Friday.

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mlle délicieuse April 1, 2010 at 22:38

Mmmm, so much pastry! And I absolutely love any form of spinach pie or pastie =D

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 03:59

Umm one can never have so much pastry! Have a lovely Easter!

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Jennifer April 1, 2010 at 16:05

Do you think I could make this advance of Easter dinner? Does it re-heat well? I was thinking I'd put it together and bake it before church on Sunday, then heat it up for dinner around 4:00… Not sure if thats a bad idea! I could also pop it in the oven in the afternoon and just assemble it beforehand.

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citrusandcandy April 1, 2010 at 17:29

Hi Jennifer, I had the leftovers the next day out of the refrigerator and it was fine. I'm sure since you will be baking and reheating on the same day then there should be no problems with it.

Just make sure you warm it up in the oven (on a lower temperature so you don't brown the pastry any further) until it's heated right through and the pastry is crispy again.

Hope this helps and Happy Easter! :)

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Sandie {Inn Cuisine} April 1, 2010 at 15:19

This looks fabulous. Bookmarked to try!

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:07

I hope you enjoy it! Have a great Easter!

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shaz April 1, 2010 at 11:32

Happy easter to you too! We went from famine to feast with your posting :) (Am I soundng like a w*nker? Sorry).

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:07

Haha not at all :P May your Easter be plentiful (of food!) and wonderful!

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Ramya April 1, 2010 at 10:17

That looks heavenly! loved it..

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:06

Cheers thank you! May there be plenty of good food for your Easter :)

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Emma @CakeMistress April 1, 2010 at 09:01

Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter) Karen! You always amaze me with your kitchen creations.

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:05

Grazie tanto! Hope you have the most fabulous Easter x

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Cherine April 1, 2010 at 07:05

Love Italian food. This torta looks absolutely stunning!!!

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:03

Thanks so much! :D I adore Italian food too and I'm itching to learn more.

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tasteofbeirut April 1, 2010 at 03:43

This pie and the photos look stunning! I have never had the real thing but now you are making me crave a slice!

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:02

I hope you get a chance to try it sometime! Have a wonderful Easter!

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Ellie April 1, 2010 at 01:44

Karen, you are on a roll with your Easter baking!!! I am not complaining, just gawking :)

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:02

Haha thank you! I love Easter so I tend to a bit nuts :P

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YW@brunchlunchmunch April 1, 2010 at 00:24

looks awesome!!! maybe I'll have this for Easter Monday .. :)

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:02

Sounds perfect! I think this is one will be one of my go-to weekend brunch recipes :)

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Heidi March 31, 2010 at 22:25

Congratulations on your blog – I love the recipes but I just don't know when I'm going to get the time to make them all.

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:01

Thanks so much! I hope you have a fabulous Easter (and find time to do some baking maybe?). :D

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billy@atablefortwo March 31, 2010 at 22:16

so you are turning all religious on me this Easter are you?! :P but it looks like a perfect pie for breakfast though.. now who can i ask to make one. dah dahh dahh…..

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citrusandcandy April 2, 2010 at 04:00

Haha never! Unless it's the religion of food then yes, yes I am :P

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