Fiadone Villese - Cheese Pie of Villa Santa Maria

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8 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 to 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons milk
* 1 pound Pecorino cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Fiadone is the Abruzzese pizza rustica, and this particular recipe is by Antonio Stanziani, the recipient of the "Golden Oscar" from the Accademia Italiana della Cucina and the director of the Chefs School of Villa Santa Maria, one of the oldest in the world. Fiadone villese is a specialty of Villa Santa Maria, known as La Patria dei Cuochi, the Homeland of Cooks.
1. Beat 3 of the eggs in small bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons beaten egg to a cup; stir in water; reserve egg wash. Stir olive oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the baking powder into eggs until thoroughly mixed. Gradually add egg mixture to 2 cups flour in large bowl, stirring with fork until dough just begins to form ball. Sprinkle with milk and gather into ball. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, about 3 minutes, adding as much of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to prevent sticking. Refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap, 15 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 375. Beat remaining 5 eggs in large bowl until frothy. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, the cheese, pepper, and nutmeg until well blended.
3. Cut off one third of the dough; reserve, wrapped. Roll out remaining two thirds of the dough on lightly floured surface into 15-inch circle. Fit into buttered 10-inch pie pan; trim dough flush with edge of pan. Fill with cheese mixture, Roll out reserved third of the dough into 11-inch circle; center over filling. Trim dough flush with edge of pan. Brush between top and 'bottom edges of dough with reserved egg wash; pinch to seal. Brush top with remaining egg wash. Cut four 1-inch slits in top for vents.
4. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes, Cool on wire rack to room tem- perature. Cut into thin wedges to serve.
TIP: *For less pungent flavor, 1/4 pound grated Parmesan cheese can be substituted for equal amount of the pecorino.
Makes one 10-inch pie (8 to 10 servings)

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