Renaissance Neapolitan Pizza (Fruit Nut Pie)
This recipe is featured in Celebrate National Pie Day
This sweet Renaissance Neapolitan Pizza (Fruit Nut Pie) recipe from Naples, (the birthplace of the modern pizza,) is adapted from the 16th Century cookbook by famed Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi. His monumental cookbook, Opera dell’arte del cucinare, was published. in 1570. The first “celebrity chef!” The world’s first fully illustrated cookbook.
- 170 grams (6 oz./1 ¼ cup) shelled almonds
- 113 grams (4 oz /¾ cup) pinenuts
- 85 grams (3 oz/approx 10-12) pitted dates
- 85 grams (3 oz/approx 12-14) dried figs
- 85 grams (3 oz/½ cup) raisins
- 8 egg yolks
- 170 grams (6 oz/¾ cups) granulated sugar
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) cinnamon
- 46 grams (1.5 oz/¼ cup) ground mostaccioli or biscotti cookies
- 60 ml (¼ cup) rosewater
- 113 grams (4 oz/4 tablespoons) butter
- 1 pie shell
One of the ingredients in this recipe is mostaccioli, which, in the Renaissance, was a biscuit that was often used in recipes as a binder, and not the sweet cookies that you might know of today. You can make your own mostaccioli, or instead, substitute plain biscotti or a cookie like Biscottini di Novara or Pavesini cookies, often found in Italian food stores, or ordered online. You could even use something like vanilla wafers in a pinch. Whatever you choose it shouldn’t have too much flavor, and should be a crispy type of cookie. Scappi’s mostaccioli were flavored with the essence of musk. I didn’t worry about this aspect of the recipe. Getting the anal glands of a now endangered musk deer isn’t so easy (or desirable) for a modern chef!
For the pie shell, you can use a store-bought pie shell or use your favorite recipe. Scappi’s pastry crusts, would have used rosewater instead of ice water. Scappi used rosewater in everything but it can be overpowering, so I halved the amount of rosewater in this recipe, which works much better for a modern palate.
- Preheat oven to 200° C (400° F). Using a food processor, grind together the almonds, pine nuts, dates, figs, and raisins. You may need to work in batches because these are dense, sticky ingredients.
2. Add the egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, ground cookies, rosewater and butter and mix until it forms a thick paste.
3. Fill the pie crust with the mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160 C° (325° F) and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. This pie is equally good hot or cold. Store in the refrigerator.