Don’t be deceived by the word “Pizza,” a word with multiple uses in Italy. This savory, cheesy bread , sometimes called “Torta di Pasqua” (literally “Easter Cake”), is local to Umbria and was traditionally made and served only around Easter. In Terni and its environs, at least, it’s now found year-round: there is an excellent bakery in the small town of Strettura, just up the road from Terni on the road to Spoleto, that makes excellent Pizza di Formaggio.
There are both yeast-leavened and quick-leavened (baking soda/powder) versions– the yeast leavened version is more traditional but also involves three to four times the effort of the recipe below, which is equally rich and delicious. We often slices of Pizza di Formaggio at La Romita, along with a plate of cheeses and cured meats, as part of a light lunch.
3/4 c freshly grated aged Pecorino Romano cheese.
1 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground white or black pepper
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c plus 1 Tbs milk
a 1 quart, circular Pyrex bowl, for a baking dish*
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Thoroughly grease the baking dish with vegetable shortening or lard. Sift together the dry ingredients, including the Pecorino. Make a large indentation in the dry ingredients, and add the eggs, olive oil, and milk. Mix all ingredients together: do not overstir. The mixture will be quite sticky, like a very gooey cookie mix. Transfer to the baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the baking dish.
The flavor of the pizza di formaggio improves with age and is best eaten 12-24 hours after baking. It’s delicious plain or toasted, served with your favorite cheeses and cured meats. Buon Appetito!