Many will hear pizza rustica in and think of a pizzagaina, a holiday baked creation that uses eggs and ricotta cheese as the base for the filling baked in either a lasagna pan or a spring-form pan. Some people put in a dozen or more eggs into it! That is a cholesterol nightmare.
I like making my recipes hearty, but healthier (not that this version is diet food). It's just good, home made ingredients in a rustic form. Instead of what can be a couple of pounds of cold cuts (like many use in pizzagaina) I use cut up pieces of cold cut ham or some leftovers... shredded chicken, meatballs (home made) or cooked and crumbled sausage. So, call it Pizza Rustica or Double Crust Pizza or whatever... here it is...
This dough recipe is for one 12-14" pizza -- you need to double the dough recipe for a bottom and top crust. You can make two batches and set them to rise separately, or double the ingredients, making one large batch, but I recommend cutting the ball of dough exactly in half (by weight), re-rolling into balls, and setting them aside separately for the rise.
1 -1/2 cups warm water (115 F)
1 tablespoon instant or rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
Proof the yeast in a 2 cup measuring cup or something similar. Whisk together the water, sugar and yeast and let foam up for 5-10 minutes.
(The following is for ONE 12-15 inch pizza round. Double the recipe for two dough rounds, or leave as is if you want to make two thinner crusts or a smaller double crust pizza.)
2-1/2 – 2-3/4 cups Bread Flour (I use King Arthur)
1 Teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Put 1 cup flour along with salt and sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer.
- Mix dry ingredients momentarily. Add yeast mixture and oil then mix on low speed for a minute or so.
- Next add another cup of flour to the bowl and mix on low speed, scraping down the sides periodically as needed.
- Then add another ½ cup of flour and mix… Depending on the humidity, the dough should be starting to hang onto the dough hook and separate from the bowl. If it looks very sticky and unformed, add a bit more flour until it starts to cling to the hook. Scraped the sides if needed. The finished dough looks sticky but forms a rough ball.
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and fold over far end towards you and push with the heel of your hand away from you… then turn ¼ turn, then repeat… do this about 10-12 times. Add flour on top and to your hands while kneading to prevent sticking.
- Tuck in the dough and make a ball shape. Place into a well-oiled bowl (cover with plastic wrap or a damp cotton kitchen towel) for rising—about 1 hour.
- After one hour is up, push down the dough gently, cover and place into fridge for another hour.
- While your dough is rising, gather your ingredients for the filling together.
- Using the ¼ inch holes on a box grater, grate mozzarella (or fontina)--about 2 cups.
- For meat, try some diced ham, or leftover meatballs chopped up, or cooked and crumbled sweet sausage.
- You can also add caramelized onions, lightly sautéed, sliced garlic (3-4 cloves) to the filling.
- Crushed black pitted olives (just squish them between fingers) also work well in this filling.
- This pizza recipe is a great way to use up leftovers.
- Place your pizza stone on the top oven rack (I recommend a pizza steel for quicker baking and better browning)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Take half the dough recipe (remember, you’ve made twice the amount above, one for the top, one for the bottom) and work it into a ball, then shape into a round pizza about 12-14” around. Lightly flour the ball and your hands as you work.
- Place this onto a wood or metal pizza peel covered with parchment paper (the paper stays under the pizza as you slide it onto your pizza stone).
- Spread some pizza sauce—about ½ cup on the bottom of the first round of dough (you can use jarred or your our recipe). Don’t put any sauce on the last 1” or so of the perimeter, and keep this area free of fillings too.
- Now layer on your fillings… meats first, olives, then onions, etc… top it off with the cheese. Retain some cheese for sprinkling across the top crust. Think “stuffed” but not “over-stuffed”.
- You can drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the ingredients and sprinkle with oregano or basil.
- Shape the second round of dough to the same size. Lay it over the top of the bottom crust and pinch together top and bottom edges, and fold the dough as you would an apple pie. Make sure your pinching is melding the two halves together.
- When done, put several small knife cuts around the center of the pizza for steam to escape.
- Top off with some of the cheese and perhaps a sprinkling of grated Romano or Parmesan, then some oregano.
- Slide the pizza off the peel onto your pizza stone in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until both the bottom and top crusts are well browned.
- Check the pizza as it gets near the end of baking. Lift the bottom with a metal spatula to see if the bottom crust is brown. Make sure the top crust is browning equally. If not, you might have to put the oven onto broil for the last minute or two of baking to finish off the top.
- If the pizza isn’t browning enough on the bottom, increase the baking time a minute or two at a time. (All ovens are different).
- If the top is browning too fast (compared to the bottom), cover with foil for the rest of the baking time.
- Baking a double crust pie like this is tricky, so you have to use your own judgment depending on the way your oven browns the crust.
Let this pizza cool down for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting slices. Serve with a green salad and nice bottle of Primativo. If you try this recipe, please leave a comment and let me know how it turned out!