Torte Milanese

Serves 10

  • 12 large eggs, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 2 yellow bell peppers cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 2 9-ounce bags fresh spinach
  • 2 17.3-ounce packages frozen puff pastry (4 sheets)
  • Nonstick vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 1 pound grated Gruyère cheese
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced good-quality ham
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk 11 eggs in a large bowl with the cream, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoned salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper until well blended.

Melt the butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook until most of the eggs are no longer runny but some egg is still very creamy and runny. As the eggs cook, use a silicone spatula to scrape the cooked egg from the bottom and sides of the pan and fold it into the rest of the egg mixture. This will take about 3 minutes. Spoon the egg mixture over a large plate and set aside to cool completely. Wipe out the pan.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the same sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the shallots and the garlic, then stir in all the bell peppers. Add 1 teaspoon of the seasoned salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and the lemon pepper. Sauté until the bell peppers are tender and all their liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes. Transfer the bell peppers to another large plate or a small baking sheet and set aside to cool completely.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the same sauté pan over high heat. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of shallots and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Add the spinach to the pan one handful at a time, stirring to coat the spinach with the oil and shallots, until all the spinach has been added and is wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander and set over a bowl to drain and cool. Once the spinach is cool, squeeze it to extract as much liquid as possible.

Using the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan as a template, cut out a round disc from 1 sheet of pastry; set it aside. Assemble the 9-inch springform pan then spray the pan with nonstick spray. Roll out 2 sheets of puff pastry to form two 13×11-inch rectangles then lay them on a work surface with the long sides slightly overlapping. Press the seam of the pastry sheets to seal. Press the pastry over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, and allowing the excess to hang over the edge of the pan. Spoon the egg mixture into the prepared pan forming an even layer. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the eggs. Spoon the bell pepper mixture on top. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the bell peppers. Arrange the spinach on top. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the spinach. Cover with the ham, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Fold the overhanging dough over the top. Set the pastry disc on top and press gently to adhere.

Whisk the remaining 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of milk in a small bowl to blend. Cut ten 1/2-inch-wide strips from the remaining sheet of pastry. Lightly brush the egg over the pastry disc. Lay 5 pastry strips over the pastry disc, spacing evenly apart. Brush the strips lightly with more egg. Lay the remaining 5 pastry strips over forming a lattice design. Brush lightly with more egg. Set the springform pan on a baking sheet.

Bake until the pastry is dark golden brown on top, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Resting prevents the cheese from oozing out when the torte is cut.

Do-Ahead Tip: The torte can be made a day ahead and reheated just before serving. Cover with foil and warm in a 350°F oven.