I had to admit it, I was a little embarassed while writing this ricotta pie recipe. All the other food bloggers I know have some deep, family-related stories about it. My family is more tied to other dishes, I guess 😀 I know that it’s a traditional Easter dessert in Sicily, though.
Even without family ties, I still love this pie because its one of the simpler, tastier Italian desserts. It takes nothing to make a delicious ricotta filling. You can make it with just ricotta, sugar and pieces of chocolate, and then add cream cheese, lemon zest or other ingredients of your choice to give it a personal flavor.
The filling is indeed so simple, that what’s really important for the success of this recipe is actually the pie crust, if you ask me. It’s made with a shortcrust pastry that we call pasta frolla, and it is usually obtained with butter, eggs, flour and sugar. Once you’ve learned how to make a good one, every next pie will be delicious.
I tried different recipes in the past few months, and today I’ll share the one I like more. I will also show you how to use it to give your ricotta pie a nice crumbly top, instead of the usual cross decorations. It’s not a centuries old family recipe, but it’ll still grant you a delicious pie that you can enjoy at any time of the year.
What you need: the basic ingredients
You don’t need any particular equipment, food processor, electric mixer, or whatsoever to make a sweet ricotta pie. Just your hands, a springform pan or a pie plate, and a few well sourced ingredients. Here’s what I used.
For the pasta frolla:
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups of cake flour
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 12 tablespoons of seed oil (you can use 1 stick of unsalted butter, if you prefer)
- a pinch of salt
- (optional) 1 tsp baking powder
For the ricotta mixture, I’ve used:
- 1 + 3/4 cups fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp chocolate drops
- 1 egg
- rhum flavoring
If you want, you can skip the rhum and add a hint of lemon juice instead, or maybe use some lemon or orange zest, or opt for a classic vanilla flavoring.
These amounts are meant for a 9-inch pie pan. Now let’s get down to business.
First of all, put the ricotta at room temperature in a pasta strainer, and let it there for at least 15 minutes, so that it can get rid of all the excess liquid.
Now, let’s move to the pasta frolla.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs with the indicated amount of sugar, then add the seed oil.
After that, sift the flour with the baking powder and add them as well.
Now, mix everything with a spatula or a wooden spoon and, later, with your hands, until you form a ball of pasta frolla.
Divide it in two pieces of different sizes (3/4 + 1/4) and cover them in plastic wrap. Then, put the bigger one in the refrigerator, and the smaller one in the freezer. Let them rest for at least 45 minutes.
In the meantime, let’s prepare the pie filling. It’s very simple: you just have to mix all the ingredients in another bowl, and then let everything rest in the fridge until you need it. I told you it took no effort to make. 😉
When the cooling time has passed, take the bigger ball out of the fridge, stretch it with a rolling pin, and then use your hands to spread it on the bottom and lower sides of a springform pan or a pie shell. Whatever you choose to use, remember cover its bottom with greaseproof paper before. You don’t want the pie crust to stick to it.
Use a fork to make some holes in the pasta frolla. This way, you’ll avoid the formation of air bubbles during the baking process.
Now, add the ricotta mixture and spread it evenly. If there is some uncovered pasta frolla on the sides of the pan, fold them on the filling.
Then, take the smaller ball out of the fridge, and grate it on a plate. Make some big shavings, then spread them on the top of the pie until it’s completely covered.
Now, bake in a preheated oven at 356°F for 20 minutes, in ventilated mode. Then, lower the temperature to 320°F, and keep baking for another 35 minutes. After that, stick a toothpick into the pie to check if it’s ready. If it comes out clean, you can turn off the oven.
Your ricotta cheese pie is ready.
Italian Ricotta Pie FAQs
Q: Can I use just the egg yolks for the shortcrust pastry?
A: I prefer to use the whole eggs. However, if you want to try it, you can use the same recipe above, but with just 2 cups of flour and 3 eggs instead of 2.
Q: Can I add cheese cream or heavy cream?
A: Sure. I’ve kept the filling simple, but if you want you can avoid using the egg and use one of these two ingredients. 1 cup should be enough.
Mistakes to avoid when making a pie
As I was saying before, the most important thing when making a ricotta pie is actually the pie crust. It takes zero effort to make the ricotta filling you’ve seen above, while there are some things to mind when making the pasta frolla. Here are some mistakes you should always avoid.
- Not letting it in the refrigerator. The pastry must be at a low temperature to be shaped well. Otherwise, it will become too soft and difficult to handle. Don’t worry if it feels hard when you take it out of the refrigerator. It will become as elastic as it needs to be as soon as you start rolling it out onto the springform pan – especially if it was made with butter (which is easily warmed by just moving your hands).
- Taking it out of the fridge too much time before actually using it. This is a mistake I made a few weeks ago out of carelessness. I was making another ricotta pie, and without much thought I took both pastry balls out of the refrigerator. As I was rolling out the first ball on the pie shell, the one I wanted to use for the top decorations got too warm, and as you can see from the picture above, the result was not very pretty to look at. So, remember to take your pastry out of the refrigerator only when you really need it, and don’t leave it too at room temperature.
- Not using baking paper. As I mentioned before, you don’t want your pie crust to stick to the pan. Protect it by putting some baking paper on the bottom.
- Not making holes on shortcrust pastry. Before adding the ricotta cheese filling, always remember to use a toothpick or fork to poke holes in the shortcrust pastry. As I mentioned above, this will prevent unaesthetic air bubbles from forming during baking.