There are few recipes that generate so much passion in my family as pizza ricotta or ricotta pie. It’s probably because it’s just so incredibly tasty and that it brings back so many memories. I’ve also had lots of requests to share this recipe, so for all of you who have been waiting, here it is!
The recipe for pizza ricotta comes directly from my mother, who was born in Salemi, Sicily and who had gotten the recipe from her mother, who had gotten it from her mother, and so on. It’s an authentic, simple and tasty dessert, which is traditionally made at Easter. In fact, we filmed this episode at Easter this year (we’re just publishing it now!), and had it as part of our Easter feast.
Most Italian desserts with sweetened ricotta come from Sicily, and including cassata, cannoli, cassadedis (which we’ll be sharing with you soon!) and of course, pizza ricotta. Sweetened ricotta is a symbol of celebration, and is something to be shared with family on special occasions. I remember being surrounded by family and friends on special occassions where different desserts containing sweetened ricotta were served. I hope that you find yourself in a similar situation, cooking this recipe, sharing it with family and friends, and creating lots of wonderful memories!
Preparing the Crust
The ingredients you will need for the crust include: 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of shortening, 2 egg yolks, a pinch of salt, 1/4 cup of milk, and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.
Start off by mixing the flour, shortening and baking powder in a large bowl. Next, mix the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl, getting a good, “pasty” consistency. Take the egg yolk and sugar mixture and mix it with the flour mixture. Add a dash of salt, and then a teaspoon of lemon extract. Typically, citrus is used in combination with sweetened ricotta desserts in Sicily. You can also use lemon zest in the filling (or other fruits, such as candied orange), but this is something I don’t do. The lemon extract in the crust gives a nice hint of citrus.
Mix the pie crust to a solid, smooth consistency. Once you have that nice consistency, break the dough into two even sections. Put one section aside, and take the other section and roll it out with your hands then with a rolling pin. Be sure to use flour on the rolling surface to ensure it does not stick. Once you have it flattened out, carefully bring it to your pie plate, and place on the bottom. You will need to mold the pie crust evenly along the sides of the plate with your hands. Make sure there are no bare spots on the bottom or sides. Once you’ve done this, put the pie crust aside while you prepare the filling.
Making the Pie Filling
Now you’re ready to make the rich pie filling (no finger dipping as you go along!). The ingredients you will need include: 2 pounds of high quality, whole milk ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 egg whites (you can use the whites from the yolks used in the pie crust).
Put the ricotta cheese in a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to mix everything together. Once consistent, place aside.
Using the electric mixer again (cleaning it of course!), mix the egg whites. Beat the egg whites until they are a nice, fluffy consistency. Take the fluffy egg whites and fold them into the ricotta cheese mix. Use a spatula to fold in the egg whites and make it a smooth consistency.
Next, take the filling and fill your bottom pie crust with it. Smooth out the top of the pie filling.
Topping it Off
Take the other section of pie crust dough, and roll it out the same way you did the bottom pie crust. Once it’s rolled out, carefully place it on top of the pie filling. Mold the top pie crust to the pan, making sure you seal it with the bottom pie crust.
You’ll want the pie to have a nice “shine”, so brush on a egg wash on the top pie crust (you could also use a milk instead of egg). Slice 2-3 small cuts on the top of the pie, which will make sure it can air out. Now you’re ready to put it in the oven!
Bake & Serve!
Put the pie in your pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Check it while it is cooking. The pie will rise and the crust will crack slightly on top. When you take the pie out, it will “deflate”, which is a normal part of the cooling process. Let the pie cool for at least 1-2 hours before removing the side of the springform pan and serving. In fact, I like to serve it slightly chilled, so placing it in your refrigerator for a short time before serving is recommended. You can optionally serve it with a side of fruit or with some confectionary sugar on top, but I like to serve it as is.
I hope you enjoy this great recipe. Give it a try, and let me know how it comes out!