Here's my recipe for Pizza Rustica, or Double Crust Pizza. When I first thought of doing this, I wanted to make something much better than those double crust fast-food pizzas--a double crust pizza. Well, I think I achieved it. I'll be honest, a true pizza rustica in Italy (or pizzagaina) has eggs and ricotta cheese as the base for the filling. Some people put a dozen or more eggs and bake it in a high cake pan. That is a cholesterol nightmare... I like making my recipes hearty, but healthier... not that this version is diet foor. It's just good, home made ingredients. And instead of cold cuts (like many use in pizzagaina) I use cut up pieces of 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)
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.
Dough (recipe is for 1 pizza about 12-15 inches, you can double the recipe for two dough rounds):
2-1/2 – 2-3/4 cups Bread Flour (I use King Arthurs)
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. Push down the dough gently, cover and place into fridge for another hour.
Meanwhile, get your ingredients together. I would suggest using either grated (the ¼ inch holes on a grater) mozzarella or fontina for this recipe. You need about 2 cups grated. For meat, try some diced ham, or leftover meatballs chopped up, or cooked and crumbled sweet sausage. You can caramelize onions, and add sliced garlic (maybe 3-4 cloves) beforehand to add to the filling. Crushed black pitted olives (just squish them between fingers) also work well in this filling. This can be a great pizza for using up leftovers.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. and place a pizza stone on the TOP rack. (This helps brown the top crust)
Take half the dough recipe (remember, you’ve made twice the amount above for 2 pizzas) and work it into a ball, then shape into a round pizza about 12-14” around. Place this onto a 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 own 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. 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 and fold the dough as you would an apple pie. Make sure your pinching is melding the two halves together. When done, put several 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. Check the pizza. Life 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. If the pizza isn’t browning enough add more overall baking time. If the top is browning too fast (compared to the bottom) then cover with foil for the rest of the backing 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. Enjoy!
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Copyright, Jerry Finzi, Grand Voyage Italy, All rights reserved