Makes two pies (8 servings)
2 recipes meatballs
4 cups thick spaghetti sauce, homemade or from a jar
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2/3 cup warm water
1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 t sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1 t salt
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
6 T butter, softened
1 egg, with 1 T added water, beaten
Prepare the Meatballs and Sauce:
After making the meatballs, place them in a large pot with the spaghetti sauce and keep warm while you make the crust. Make sure the sauce is very thick. If it is thin, simmer uncovered to reduce.
Make the Crust:
Measure the water in a bowl or 2 cup sized Pyrex measuring cup. The water should be just a little warmer than your body temperature. It should not feel hot.
Add the yeast and sugar to the water and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Set the bowl or cup aside for 10 minutes. The yeast will activate and become quite bubbly.
In a large bowl combine the flour with the salt.
Make a well in the center and add the 2 beaten eggs, the softened butter, and bubbly yeast water.
Stir with a wooden spoon, smashing the butter as you go, the butter does not need to fully incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto a wooden surface that is lightly dusted with flour and knead, adding more flour, until the dough is smooth and the butter well worked into the dough.
This dough should not be sticky (unincorporated butter), nor should it be quite as dry as bread dough. Don’t fuss it too much as the dough is forgiving, just make sure it is no longer sticky.
Place the smooth rounded dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set aside, out of drafts, to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Punch down the dough, separate into two equal pieces, shape into balls, cover with the tea towel, and allow the rounds to rest, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.
This is a good time to make sure the meatballs are warmed through, the cheese shredded, and the ovens turned on.
Assemble and Bake the Pies:
Place each round of dough on a cookie or pizza pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. Using your fingers, press each ball out to a 12 inch round. If a hole appears in the central 10 inches, use a piece from the edge to seal it.
Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on each dough round in a center circle, keeping the outer 3 inches free of cheese.
Add the meatballs on top of the cheese. If the meatballs are large, there may just be one layer (approximately 6-7 meatballs). Place small meatballs in a few layers until they reach approximately 2 – 2 1/2 inches in height.
In dollops that cover and fill in the gaps between the meatballs, divide the sauce that remains in the pot between the two pies. The sauce must be thick and not run to the side.
Top the meatballs with the mozzarella.
Fold and pleat the dough up against the sides of the meatballs, lightly pressing as you go.
Whisk the remaining egg with water and brush over the dough.
Bake until the crust is brown and the sauce is bubbly, approximately 25-30 minutes. If you have two ovens, use the second from the bottom rack. If you have one oven, use two racks and swap the pie positions after about 15 minutes of cooking.
Remove from the oven to rest for 5 minutes, and then slice each pie into 4 large pieces. Enjoy with a large beautiful salad.