Pizza di Crema
Pizza di Crema is a custard pie that is Neapolitan in origin. It is a special treat, especially at Easter. Pizza di Crema has a custard filling flavored with orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla and enhanced with cherries. Use the cherries from a jar of Amarena Fabbri if available. Otherwise you may substitute fresh, canned, or frozen (thawed) pitted cherries. Very often a cake is called a pizza in Italian but it is a 'pizza dolce' or sweet pizza. Pasta frolla is a short crust dough similar to a traditional pie crust.
Pasta Frolla (Short Crust Pastry):
2-1/2 cups flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
Grated zest of 2 oranges
2/3 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pitted cherries (do not use cherry pie filling)
Egg Wash: 1 egg, whisked
To make the dough by hand:
Place flour on a counter or in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry blender. Work quickly so the mixture remains cool. Incorporate the butter until the mixture has the texure of cornmeal. Form a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Gather the ingredients together and gently knead into a ball. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To make the dough with a food processor:
Place all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times to blend. Add the butter. Process 10-15 seconds until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Pulse until dough forms a ball. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To make the pastry cream:
Bring the milk, zest, and 1/3 cup of the sugar to a boil in a saucepan.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Add the remaining sugar and flour to the yolks. Whisk until smooth. When the milk mixture boils, whisk 1/3 of it into the yolk mixture. Then whisk in the remaining milk mixture. Adding it all at once may cause the eggs to curdle. Return the mixture to the saucepan.
Continue whisking the mixture over medium heat until the cream thickens and returns to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon.
Pour the pastry cream into a bowl and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold.
To assemple the Pizza di Crema:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan.
Cut off 1/3 of the pasta frolla and set aside. Roll out the remaining dough into a 14-inch round. The dough should be less than 1/4-inch thick, so discard any excess dough. Line the cake pan with the dough round allowing it to hang over the edge of the pan. Pour in half of the pastry cream. Distribute the cherries evenly over the top. Cover the cherries with the remaining pastry cream.
Roll out the reserved dough into a 9-inch round. You can use the bottom of the cake pan to cut a perfect round. Cut a few openings in the dough with a decorative cookie cutter. Save the cut-outs. Place the dough round on top of the pastry cream. Trim the edges of the overhanging dough about 1 -inch from the edge of the pan. Fold the edge to the inside of the pan, slightly over the top crust. Crimp the edge all around to seal. Arrange the reserved dough cut-outs over the top crust. Brush the top and edges of the dough with the egg wash.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden. Cool in the pan on a rack before unmolding. To unmold, run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen. Invert the cake onto a flat plate, lift off the pan, and reinvert onto another flat plate. Serve at room temperature.
Pizza di Crema
INCREDIBLY FLAVORUL EXTRACT
Imported from Bologna, Italy, local wild cherries are preserved in a rich syrup. Use them as a topping over ice cream, pancakes, pound cake, or in a glass of champagne or seltzer.