Requires: 24cm round cake pan with removable bottom, pastry brush
To prepare the ricotta for the Torta Pasqualina filling, place the ricotta in a colander to drain.
To make the Pasta Brisè (shortcrust pastry dough), combine the flour, butter and salt in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the texture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the milk and egg yolk and mix by hand until the dough just starts to come together. Alternatively, mix in a food processor until just combined.
Note: We recommend the use of strong, high protein flour (bread flour) for this recipe. While you can use plain (all-purpose flour), the additional gluten provides elasticity to deliver a better result.
Turn the Pasta Brisè dough onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Lightly knead to bring together. Gather the dough with your hands to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional oven/ 160°C fan-forced (350° Fahrenheit/Gas 4). Grease the bottom and sides of a 24cm round cake pan (with removable bottom) with extra virgin olive oil. Line the bottom of the cake pan with baking paper, then brush olive oil over the baking paper.
Transfer the ricotta from the colander to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and spring onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the spinach. Season with salt to taste. Cook until the spinach wilts. Transfer to the colander. Use the back of a ladle to push down on the spinach and squeeze out excess moisture. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile to make the Torta Pasqualina filling, add the Parmigiano Reggiano, chopped basil (optional), breadcrumbs and 1 egg to the mixing bowl with ricotta. Once the spinach has cooled completely, add to the Torta Pasqualina filling and use a spoon to mix to combine. Season with sea salt to taste.
Remove the Pasta Brisè (shortcrust pastry dough) from the fridge. Set aside 1/3 of the Pasta Brisè. Turn the remaining pastry onto a large sheet of baking paper. Use a rolling pin to roll out the Pasta Brisè very thin. It should be large enough to fit the base and sides of the tin with a slight overhang. Flour the rolling pin well and gently roll up the pastry dough around the rolling pin. Unroll the pastry dough into the cake pan. Brush the pastry with olive oil. Roll the remaining portion of pastry onto a sheet of baking paper. It should be a slightly larger circle shape than the Torta Pasqualina. Set aside. This will be used for the top of the Torta Pasqualina.
Spoon all of the Torta Pasqualina filling into the cake pan on top of the Pasta Brisè pastry. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface, then make five large holes in the filling, one in the middle and 4 around the sides. The holes need to be large enough to hold 1 egg each. Then break 1 egg into each of the holes, being careful to keep the yolk intact. Season each egg with sea salt.
Place the round pastry top over the filling. Seal the Torta Pasqualina by pressing the top pastry together with the overhang pastry around the sides, then crimp the edges. Brush olive oil over the pastry and bake for 50 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the Torta Pasqualina from the cake base. Cut into 8 wedges to serve – buon appetito.