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Pizza di Pasqua salata

Serves 8 - 12

In America pizza means only one kind of dish, pizza napolitano, but here the word is used both for sweet and salty doughs - cakes, a kind of bread, or pizzas in the American sense. In this recipe, which is actually a brioche, the pizza is used as bread with the meal. We have elaborated on an old recipe from Terni, making it much lighter than the usual pizza salata. Left-over pizza can be served cold with aperitifs.

1 ounce (30 g; 2 cakes) compressed yeast or 2 packages active dry yeast
Scant 1/4 cup milk, tepid
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
4 eggs
1 cup less 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, cut into bits
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 pound (115 g) sharp provolone cheese, coarsely chopped
1/4 pound (115 g) prosciutto, julienned, or boiled ham, sliced not too thin and julienned

1. Butter a 2-quart (2-L) bundt pan.

2. Dissolve the yeast in the tepid milk with 1 tablespoon sugar.

3. If using an electric mixer: Put the flour, eggs, butter, salt, and pepper to taste into the large bowl of an electric mixer. Wrap a tea towel around and over the top of the mixer and bowl so that the contents do not scatter. With the machine on high, and using the paddle attachment or a dough hook, beat the mixture 10 minutes. Do not leave the mixer or it will "walk" while vigorously beating this dough. Add the Parmesan, provolone, and prosci- utto and beat 1 minute. If making by hand: Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add all the ingredients to the well and mix thoroughly. Holding the bowl next to the body, with your free hand pick up the dough and throw it energetically into the bowl. Continue until the dough becomes elastic and forms a mass, about 30 minutes.

4. Place the dough evenly in the buttered pan, cover with two tea towels, and set aside to rise in a warm draft-free place for 1 hour or longer. The dough should rise to the top of the pan.

5. Toward the end of the rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

6. Bake the pizza for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Remove from the pan while warm and, if not serving at once, cool on a cake rack, then wrap tightly in aluminum foil when completely cool. When ready to serve, heat the pizza, still wrapped in foil, for 15 minutes in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven. Serve hot or tepid.

NOTE: This recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance, wrapped in aluminum foil after it is completely cooled, then reheated before serving.

Italian Cooking in the Grand Tradition
Jo Bettoja and Anna Maria Cornetto
The Dial Press




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