Easter Pie: a tradition worth savoring.

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I’ve no doubt baked many hundreds of different recipes in the 35+ years I’ve been baking on my own. But there are certain ones that I bake over and over again: fudge birthday cake, almond puff loaf, whole wheat pain de mie, and a host of others that never fail to win accolades from whatever audience enjoys them.

Then there are the recipes I make over and over again… but only once a year.

Dark chocolate buttercrunch at Christmas. Some version of pineapple upside-down cake (the particular recipe varies from year to year) on my husband’s birthday. Pistachio cookies for St. Patrick’s Day; and Easter Pie, which today I made for the 34th time. (I know it’s 34 times because we were married in August, 1976 and I’ve made it every Easter since, without fail.)

Easter pie isn’t sweet. And it’s not made with a traditional pie crust. It’s a pie in the same sense that “pizza pie” is pie; it has a top and bottom crust with filling in between.

Easter pie’s not assertively flavored; it’s not over-the-top handsome. It’s more like a comfortable old shoe, something that’s beloved by sheer dint of its familiarity. Easter pie, in our house, is true comfort food.

I got this recipe from my grandma-in-law, not long before she passed away over 25 years ago. A typical Italian grandma, she didn’t have anything written down, and scoffed when I asked her if she had a recipe.

But between watching her, then watching my mother-in-law (her daughter), I learned. And I wrote down the recipe. Because this is a recipe that needs to get passed along. Perhaps to my son, who’s gradually learning to cook now that he’s out on his own. Perhaps to his wife, if he finds one someday. But certainly to anyone browsing through the recipe archive on the King Arthur Flour Web site, where this recipe now lives.

So, while it may be too late for you to add this to your list of Easter recipes this year, I wanted to share it with you anyway. There’s always next year… and the year after… and the 30 or 40 or 50 years after that.

Some recipes truly do stand the test of time. And Easter Pie is one of them.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

5 cups (19 ounces) Italian-Style Flour OR 4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar
5 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver or nonfat dry milk (optional, but very helpful)
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) olive oil
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) warm water


Mix everything together to make a rough dough.

Switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and satiny.


Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, or in an 8-cup measure — which makes it easy to track its progress as it rises.

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While the dough is rising, make the filling.

Gather the following:

6 large hard-boiled eggs
1 pound good-quality, full-flavored ham – not sliced, in a single piece
2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese, part-skim preferred
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lightly packed
6 large fresh eggs
salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley, to taste

Place the hard-boiled eggs, ham (cut in chunks), and fresh parsley (1/2 cup or so) in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until chopped and combined. Don’t over-process; the ham and eggs should still be a bit chunky.

You can also simply dice the eggs and ham, and chop the parsley, if you don’t have a food processor.

Combine the ham, boiled eggs, and parsley with the raw eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, and about 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. If the ham is salty, you may not need any salt at all.


Back to the dough. Nice rise!


Deflate the dough, and divide it into four pieces.


Roll each piece into a 13″ circle, if you have two 12″ or 14″ round pizza pans; or into ovals about 10” x 14”. Rolling on parchment will make it easy to move the crusts onto the pans.

I’ve chosen to roll ovals.

As you roll the crusts, stack them (with the parchment) atop one another, so the first ones don’t dry out before the last one is done.

Place two of the crusts on pans. These are the bottom crusts.


Divide the filling evenly between the two bottom crusts; you’ll use a generous 3 cups (about 27 ounces) for each crust.

Spread the filling to within 1″ of the edge of each crust.

Use the parchment as an aide to place the remaining crusts atop the filled crusts.

Like this.

Seal the crust edges by rolling the bottom crust up over the top, and pinching together.

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut a 1″ hole in the very center of each top crust; this will allow steam to escape.

Now, for the glaze. Combine 1 large egg and 2 tablespoons sugar.

Whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Paint each crust with some of the topping.

This will yield a golden brown, shiny crust with mildly sweet flavor, a perfect foil for the salty ham.

Allow the pies to rest while you preheat your oven to 350°F, about 15 minutes. They don’t need to be covered.

Bake the pies for about 25 minutes…

…until they’re a deep, golden brown.

Remove them from the oven, and carefully slide them off the pan/parchment and onto on a rack to cool.

Light, thin crust; ham, cheese, eggs; shiny/mildly sweet glaze. That’s Easter Pie!

Serve the pie cut in wedges or squares. It’s traditionally NOT served warm, and NOT served on a plate, at least in our house. You can be more formal, and serve on a plate, with a fork; but we simply eat it out of hand. It holds together well, and makes a great snack, something to enjoy while you’re trailing the kids around on their Easter egg hunt.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Italian Easter Pie.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Royce Robertson

    I love this website and I love the staff. Thank you so much for sharing your family recipe for Easter pie. Until recently I had never heard of Easter pie and I am 70 yrs. old. I have not made this yet but I am certainly going to try. I love all of the family recipes as they are so special. I am a fairly new member but I read and print practically everything that is written. Aside from the recipes, kudos to your style of writing. It is like you are writing to me, your best friend. Your articles are always so interesting, who would have thought that baking could be so interesting. Keep up the good work . Looking forward to your next baking adventure being it new or old. I haven’t a lot of money so I am unable to purchase a lot of things but boy if I ever win the lottery. Thanks again for making your secrets available. A King Arthur Flour Fan, Royce
    I live in a small rural town – Gold Beach, Oregon where King Arthur Flour has yet to visit this part of the states. Thank goodness for your website ordering store. Happy Easter. Peace, Prayers and Hugs to all.

    Reply
  2. PJ Hamel , post author

    Hi Royce: I AM writing to you! I’m writing to anyone out there who loves to bake. We’re all “virtual” friends. That’s the power of the Internet; we can connect without physically connecting. And kudos to you for trying new things in the kitchen; I hope you get to share Easter Pie sometime with your family or friends. I hope King Arthur Flour makes it out to Gold Beach, Oregon someday. But in the meantime – stay tuned, I’ll be sharing many more baking adventures here. Happy Easter to you- PJ

    Reply
  3. ecr

    I just wanted to say that I made this recipe last night and it is delicious! My husband and I have devoured half a pie over the past 24 hrs. The dough turned out beautifully and usually I’m not good with rolling things out. I will definitely make it again, although I think I might experiment and add some thyme and maybe some lightly sauted onions or maybe some spicy capicola for a little more flavour. Thanks again!

    Reply
  4. PJ Hamel , post author

    This pie is wonderfully adaptable. And as many Italian cooks as there are in the world, that’s how many recipes there are. This is the way my in-laws like it – very mildly flavored. But I’ve made it for another occasion using chopped pepperoni and chunks of Parmesan (rather than grated), and it was delicious. As you say, try adding spices and herbs, too. Also, I’ve made it with our Italian flour, which makes it even easier to roll out… just cut the water back to 1 cup + 2 tablespoons, I think it was. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it! – PJH

    Reply
  5. Liz Altieri

    I enjoyed reading about your traditional Easter pie. My family made one called “pizza rustica” with hard-boiled egg, sopressata, and mozzarella layered and then “cemented” with beaten egg. There was both a top and bottom crust (rich with oil and egg) and it was made in a rectangle pan. We also ate it at room temperature and served for Easter brunch with another easter pie (some folks call this Pastera – it’s made with egg, sugar, ricotta and either wheat or citron). I haven’t made them every year, but when I don’t, I surely miss them!

    Reply
  6. PJ Hamel

    Liz, check out our other Easter Pie recipe online: Italian Easter Meat Pie. It’s got more of the meats such as you mention, and it’s more a layered effect. Also, check out our Easter Grain Pie, made with rice instead of wheat (as cooked wheat is harder to come by). Thanks for keeping this wonderful “Easter pie” tradition going-

    Reply
  7. esgabel

    I make an Easter Pie from Lucca called a torte–it has a filling made with rice, spinach, parsley, pecorino Romano, walnuts, pignoli, sugar–but I am wondering if anyone else has a more complete recipe…mine is a lot of by guess and by golly–as are my recipes for Crescia and Romano cheese bread with black pepper and Sciatiata a bread made with saffron and dried currents. Does anyone else have these recipes??

    Reply
  8. Mary Ellen D'Aurizio

    I make my Easter ricotta pie in a quiche dish using the yeast dough as a lattice crust. The leftovers from the pie are perfect for the next day’s lunch box. By the way, how does one contribute a recipe for this site?

    Reply
  9. PJ Hamel , post author

    I agree, Mary Ellen, Easter Pie (in any form) is definitely delicious the next day… and the day after that, and after that…
    Currently, you can share recipes via bakingcircle.com, our baking/sharing forum. We’re redoing our King Arthur Flour recipe archive, and perhaps there’ll be a recipe sharing function there eventually – not sure. But for now, bakingcircle.com is your best bet. Thanks for connecting-

    Reply
  10. Rose

    I love this Easter pie! It is wonderful for brunch, but also great to take slices for lunch. The dough is nice and easy to work with a touch of sweetness. Yum!

    Reply
  11. Beverley

    Just love this Easter pie, but as I am from South Africa could someone tell me what is King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver as we might have something like this here but under another name. Please help would love to try this.

    Beverley, this is something we developed, and I don’t think you’d have it there. Substitute a couple of tablespoons of dry milk powder, if you have that. It won’t do exactly the same thing, but is an approximation – simply makes the dough more extensible/easier to roll. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  12. "Marion E."

    Hard to believe you and Rick have been married that long! Was this Toots’ mother’s recipe? I don’t think I ever met any of his grandparents, just Toots and Dick. I have pictures of them with my grandfather, Harvard Littlefield.

    Marion, so nice to hear from you – I did hear from our customer service folks that you’d said Hi, too. Yes, it was Toots’ mother’s recipe, and Rick got it from her. I’ve been “perfecting” it for 35 years now… Your grandfather was a wonderful gentleman, very much beloved by both the Braintree and Camden crowds… Cheers- PJH

    Reply
  13. Karen

    This sounds amazing! I have to make Spinach and Ham Rollups and Hopping Bunnies (a yeast bread shaped into bunnies) or it just isn’t Easter! The Hopping Bunny recipe is from BH & G cookbook from at least 40 years ago.

    Karen, those oldie-but-goody recipes are so comforting, aren’t they? I’m gong to have to dig out my old BH & G cookbook and look…. PJH

    Reply
  14. kayler

    I couldn’t find the recipe for almond puff loaf. Would you please help me with that? Have to have all the recipes you’ve made over and over again!

    Whoops, broken link, eh? Thanks for letting me know, I fixed it in the blog post. And here it is: Almond Puff Loaf. PJH

    Reply
  15. Deb

    Very different than the two cheese pies that are my Italian families tradition for Easter! I love seeing what is the tradition for folks so really liked this post!!

    Thanks

    Deb, how about posting one of your family recipes on our community? Like you, I’m fascinated by other people’s family traditions – it’s interesting to see how they’re alike, yet different… PJH

    Reply
  16. Kat

    Oh, why do I look at this blog when I’m hungry? That looks amazing, and I’ll be bookmarking this to try it next week.

    All of you do a great job of testing, sharing and illustrating recipes. Many of the KAF Guaranteed recipes have replaced ones I previously thought were the best, so I’m always here looking for ideas.
    That is so nice to hear Kat. I only make the KAF Guaranteed Sugar Cookies now, they are the best! We’re so glad you are enjoying the recipes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. CatherineMcClarey

    The KAF email today pictured this recipe, and the recipe link worked; however, the “See how it’s done” link went to a new recipe for Italian Dove Bread.
    Ham in the filling wouldn’t have been appropriate for an Italian Lenten dish; however, since this is traditionally served on Holy Saturday (day before Easter), that day is not technically part of Lent, and so the Catholic Church’s traditional regulations on abstinence from meat products during Lent would not apply.

    Link is fixed now – sorry about that! Actually, we were brought up (and the Catholic church currently teaches) abstinence is only followed on Fridays during Lent; and then not on Holy Day Fridays (as the Annunciation was this year). So – Holy Saturday is perfectly OK, and anyway, I never make it before then anyway (though sometimes I’d make it on Friday, and boy, was it hard to wait when you’re both abstaining AND fasting!) :) PJH

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  18. margielm

    this is soooo interesting ! I love this site. I think all Italian families know what Easter Pie is, a favorite of our family that we all looked forward to every easter. I watched my grandmother make ours,and have tried very hard to make it like she did,came pretty close, but still not the same. I am glad that I can find these other receipes to compare,and have found that although there is some difference the basic receipe is pretty much the same. We didn’t hard boil our eggs, but used uncooked. I will look for one of Deb’s reciepe. Thanks for all the great receipes and ideas– margielm

    It feels good to do what your grandmother did, doesn’t it, Margie? I love being able to carry forward these family traditions… Happy Easter Pie! :) PJH

    Reply
  19. argentyne

    That looks tasty. I make little egg and sausage hand pies for weekday breakfasts, and i bet i could make this into similar size single serving pies, you know.. just for a change. :)

    Thanks for the ideas!

    We aim to please! Mini pies sound delicious… :) PJH

    Reply
  20. mikelib

    Thanks for the fine recipe. I also have been making Easter Pie for more years then I want to remember. I being one of six boys (no sisters) have been carrying on the family tradition that my mother started when we were young children.

    Since I don’t like hard-boiled eggs I add dried Italian sausage and some pepperoni. I use sweeter dough because I also make my grandchildren Easter Egg Baskets. I place the dough in a muffin pan and inserting a colored Easter egg. I roll thin strips of dough and then braid the dough and ring it around the egg, I place a piece of the braided dough over the egg and tuck it under the ring braid to make a handle.

    After the baskets bake and cool I glaze the outside and add colorful nonpareils.

    My grandchildren get a nice treat for Easter Morning Breakfast.

    Happy Easter – Buona Pasqua to All
    mikelib

    That sounds so lovely and festive – I bet your grandchildren are thrilled to see what color egg they get. Thanks so much for sharing here – I’m definitely going to try that sometime (maybe when I have grandkids!) PJH

    Reply
  21. "sandra Alicante"

    Looks like a great recipe. I’ve not really done much with pies from bread dough, so will give this a try. Might substitute the eggs with onions though as I really don’t like hard boiled eggs!
    Oh, and off topic a bit, I’m blaming your community pages for the fact that I now have a (sweet) mincemeat slice in the kitchen – fancy discussing Christmas treats in April! I’ve posted the recipe on my website, perhaps you have started a trend!

    That mince is amazing – I have some in my fridge from October, and it’s still perfectly good! :) PJH

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  22. glpruett

    Having NO Italian heritage on either side of the family, I’ve never even heard of Easter Pie–until today!!! We’re lucky enough to be having family visit near Easter this year, so you can bet this will be on the menu! I had an idea as I read your blog: I have a very small cross-shaped cookie cutter, and I’m going to use that for cutting my steam vent!

    One question: would it be possible to make these ahead and refrigerate them for a few days? I don’t want the crust to get soggy, and I think it just might do that.

    Actually, it’s fine being refrigerated for a few days. I usually make mine on Thursday, and we eat it Saturday/Sunday. It starts to get dried out the longer it’s in the fridge, but it doesn’t seem to get soggy. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  23. martibeth

    RE a previous poster’s (Karen) comment about making “Hopping Bunnies” – I’ ve tried to find this recipe online as I guess the BH and G cookbook I have is not old enough. If Karen or someone else wouldn’t mind posting this recipe, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

    P.S. I bet my husband would just love this Easter Pie recipe.

    Reply
  24. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - FMP - FASE - Petrópolis, RJ - BRAZIL

    P.J., i made this pie today to the guests of the Hotel – Resort ( http://www.bomtemporesort.com.br ) i´m working as head baker, and absolutely, they love a lot. The pie turns great with shiny and crispy crust and the fill was good, specially with the add of grated parmesan cheese. Here in my city those kind of pies are common with different kind of fillings, specially because we have great Italian settler here. Here in Brazil we have an entire year dedicated to Italian immigrants in a year named ´Year of Italian in Brazil `. At the end of the year in November, we will have local Gourmet Festival, focused in Italian Gastronomy. Then, i´ll be there as a talker and to teach audience how to bake Italian breads and pies and certainly this pie in particular will be one of my inspirations!
    My city link is
    http://www.petropolis.rj.gov.br/

    Ricardo, I’d love to be at that resort right now! In the hammock, preferably… Thanks for sharing the link – I’m glad they liked the pie. And thanks, as always, for connecting. PJH

    Reply
  25. sallybr

    I’ve never had Easter Pie, and have seen recipes for it popping in the internet, although none as beautiful as yours….

    I am not going to have access to my KitchenAid until June – I guess this would be too hard to mix by hand… correct?

    I really want to make this sometime…

    It wouldn’t be too hard to mix the filling by hand – though you need a food processor (or lots of patience) to finely chop the boiled eggs, grate the cheese, and dice the ham. And you can knead the dough by hand (or food processor with a dough blade or bread machine) – you don’t necessarily need a mixer. Give it a try? PJH

    Reply
  26. sallybr

    Thank you! I actually do have a food processor here, so the filling would be no problem, and come to think of it, you are absolutely right, I could also make the dough in it…

    hummmmm…. I’m tempted to give it a try this coming weekend…

    I highly recommend a test run this weekend, Sally… you know, just to make SURE it’s OK! :) PJH

    Reply
  27. susanbaty

    “I’ve chosen to roll ovals.” Oh, PJ, I love you! :) And I love how you remind us that baking should be fun and filled with love – not stress over minor imperfections.

    I’ve said it forever: THERE ARE NO BAKING POLICE. Any restrictions we impose are done on our own. Thanks for summarizing in such a lovely way what baking should be, Susan. PJH

    Reply
  28. susanbaty

    Oops! PJ, I just reread this blog and realized I missed the entire paragraph where you said to roll the dough into circles or ovals. I thought when I read that you’d “chosen to roll ovals” that you were making a joke about not having a perfectly round Easter pie. (This made perfect sense to me since I’ve yet to master rolling things into circles; my pizzas are always “rustic.”) My apologies! But I do stand by my statement that your posts always help me remember to not stress out in the kitchen. As a fellow non-fussy baker, I appreciate being reminded that how something tastes is more important than how it looks. I love all that you and all the other KAF employee-owners do. Thank you all!

    Susan, thanks so much for your very kind words, and for connecting here. I sense we’re kindred souls, as far as “fussy” goes – not everyone loves a perfect look, do we?? :) PJH

    Reply
  29. aidangilbert2620

    My wife and I frequently entertain at our summer home, and I am always on the lookout for recipes like this which can be made in advance and easily served with drinks out in the orchard or as part of a picnic during the concerts at the village bandshell. I have a feeling, given the number of ingredients one could add or switch out, there is no limit to the variations! (I’m already thinking of spicy meats and olives!)

    One question — and it is the area of food I am least intuitive and imaginative — can you think of how I could make a vegetarian version? Since this makes two, I could make one vegetarian and one with meat and be able to satisfy everyone!

    Well the dough itself is completely vegetarian so you can fill it with anything you like! Maybe spinach or thinly sliced eggplant?-Jon

    Reply
  30. "Nancy Griffin"

    Hey, PJ. That was a lovely piece of writing. Really nice to hear the story of the Easter Pie.

    It really is a wonderful story. Makes me want to make an Easter Pie this Sunday (or Saturday, it is supposed to be eaten cold, right?).-Jon

    Reply
  31. mkschrock

    One more variation of Easter bread. Our family uses sliced, hard boiled eggs, salami and pepperoni for the filling. We use mozzarella for holding the layers of filling together.

    Sounds like a delicious variation!-Jon

    Reply
  32. Jessica

    I realize this depends on the saltiness of the ham, but is there something I could use to keep it vegetarian? Would mushrooms make the filling too runny?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You could certainly try sauteed mushrooms. We haven’t tried this recipe with anything but ham, but it could work. Jon@KAF

  33. Anna Hogan

    I make an Easter Pizza very similar to this which was handed down from my Grandmother. We roll the dough out in a large circle than add a filling of Ricotta cheese mixed with raw eggs, parsley, salt, grated mozzarella cheese which has been refrigerated while the dough rises. It is then spread on one half of the dough. At this point you can add roasted Italian sausage, if you like, which has been cut into 1/4″ rounds. Then the top half of the dough is placed over the cheese/sausage filling and sealed, we used a fork to ensure it was closed. We also used the tines of a fork to lightly aerate the top of the pizza and brushed it with a beaten egg yolk. When it comes out of the oven it looks like the sunrise on Easter morning! My grandmother always made two, one plain cheese and one cheese and sausage as she always had a lot of guests for Easter.

    Reply

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