Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Ricotta Pie


Oh my. This past week has been quite long...
My kids were home from school for Spring Break, as I talked about here. It rained most of the week...so, on one of those rainy days I decided we would make a ricotta pie for brunch on Sunday. Growing up, my grandmother would always make a ricotta pie on Easter. It has a more sophisticated taste than most kids would go for. But, even as a child, I always loved it!
It seems that every Italian mother, or grandmother, has her own way of making this traditional dessert {I won't even get started on the savory version...with sausage, ham & and/or cheese}. Some add soaked wheat grains to the filling. Some add chopped candied orange peel, citron, or mixed fruits. Some add chocolate chips.
Most commonly, my grandmother added chocolate chips & candied mixed fruit. Although, I do remember an Easter, or two, where she did make the grain pie.
I didn't have my grandmother's recipe. But, I figured with some searching on the Internet, I could find a similar version. So, after some poking around, I decided on one. It included many steps & was very complicated looking, but I figured we had nothing else going on that day & decided to go for it.
The result?
A complete disaster...in fact, inedible.
I was so disappointed. Not only had I wasted an entire afternoon baking something I wouldn't be able to serve, I still didn't have a dessert for Easter! So, I called my father & asked him if he knew grandma's recipe for Easter pie. He said he thought he had it around somewhere & that he would look around.
That afternoon, I was very happy when he emailed me a copy of her recipe. I decided to make it Easter morning for our brunch that day. We were having a family brunch here at my house. I had planned, shopped & prepped all day Saturday for the event.
But, unfortunately, things didn't turn out as I had planned.
At 5:30am, we awoke to the sounds of my younger son throwing up. The poor guy found his basket from the Easter Bunny, but couldn't eat any candy, because he was so sick. Five, or six trips to the bathroom later, we decided to cancel our brunch.
The decision was met with plenty a moan & groan, along with a few, "this is the worst Easter of my life!" declarations. I, myself, was less than thrilled. What would I do with all those groceries? My menu of Glazed Ham? Scalloped potatoes? Spinach & Cheese Strata? Along, with loads of other things?
But, I decided to find the positives in the situation. Now, although post-Easter, I would be able to blog some of the recipes, which I would have otherwise been too busy to do.
I tried to make the best of the day...I poured myself a Mimosa & began making my grandmother's Easter pie.

Begin by making the crust. The crust for this pie is not a typical pie crust, which is typically make by cutting fat into the dry ingredients...resulting in flaky pastry. For this, the dough is very similar to a cookie dough & results in a crust very similar in texture to a cookie.
To make the dough, add 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder & a pinch of salt to a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine & set aside.

Cream 2 sticks of {softened} unsalted butter & a 1/2 cup of sugar together, in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, until light & fluffy {about 4 minutes}.

Add the zest of 1 orange {I recommend organic, since you're using the peel}.

Beat for an additional minute. Add 2 egg yolks, then 2 whole eggs, beating after each addition & scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture & beat until just combined.

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured work surface & shape the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly bigger than the other. Shape into discs, wrap in plastic wrap & chill for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, begin making the filling. You will need 1 pound of ricotta cheese, that has been drained overnight in a colander. Place the drained ricotta into a mixing bowl.

Add a 1/2 cup sugar & a 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon; stir to combine.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs. Add to the ricotta mixture & stir. Fold in a half cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take the larger of the two discs of dough & roll it out, on a well-floured work surface, into an 1/8" thick round; carefully fit it into the springform pan. Cut away any overhang, fold over the edges & press neatly against the rim of the pan.

Pour in the filling.

Roll the second disc of dough out into another 1/8" thick round. Using a knife, or a pizza wheel, cut the dough into 1/2" thick strips. Arrange the strips over the top of the pie in a lattice pattern; brush the crust with a beaten egg.

Bake for about one hour, or until the crust is golden brown & the filling is set. Let cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pan & transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, the pie can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. I like to serve this pie slightly chilled, by removing it from the refrigerator about a half hour before serving.

Easter Ricotta Pie

Adapted from my grandmother's recipe
Makes one 9" pie

This is my grandmother's Easter ricotta pie recipe, with just a few changes. She added the orange zest to the ricotta filling, but here, I've added it to the crust {purely, for aesthetic purposes}. I also omitted the candied fruit, to appease some finicky palates at my house. If you'd like to make it with the fruit, add a 1/4 cup {chopped} mixed candied fruit to the filling with the chocolate chips.

Crust:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 {organic} orange
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
{plus, one additional egg for brushing the top of the pie}

Filling:
1 pound ricotta cheese {part skim, or whole milk}
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Special Equipment: a 9" springform pan, or deep-dish tart pan with a removable bottom.

Place the ricotta cheese in a colander, set over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap & leave in the refrigerator to drain overnight.
To make the crust: Whisk together the flour, baking powder & salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter & sugar together, in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, until light & fluffy {about 4 minutes}. Add the orange zest & beat for an additional minute. Add the egg yolks, then the whole eggs, beating after each addition & scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients & beat until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured work surface & shape the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly bigger than the other. Shape into discs, wrap in plastic wrap & chill for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Transfer the drained ricotta to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar & ground cinnamon; stir to combine. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add them to the ricotta mixture & stir. Fold in the chocolate chips.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take the larger of the two discs of dough & roll it out, on a well-floured work surface, into an 1/8" thick round; carefully fit it into the springform pan. Cut away any overhang, fold over the edges & press neatly against the rim of the pan. Pour in the filling. Roll the second disc of dough out into another 1/8" thick round. Using a knife, or a pizza wheel, cut the dough into 1/2" thick strips. Arrange the strips over the top of the pie in a lattice pattern; brush the crust with a beaten egg. Bake for about one hour, or until the crust is golden brown & the filling is set. Let cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pan & transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note: Once cool, the pie can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. I like to serve this pie slightly chilled, by removing it from the refrigerator about a half hour before serving.
Click here for the printable recipe.

13 comments:

Molly said...

This pie is gorgeous! And I hope your little one is feeling better and can enjoy his Easter basket soon. Poor little guy!

mywanderingspoon said...

This is amazing recipe....have to try it.I love ricotta and can't wait to start making it....thanks for the post:)

Winnie said...

Omg that is so freaking gorgeous...you sure know how to make the best of a crappy situation!

kate said...

Thanks all!
My little guy is feeling better, thanks Molly :)

Joanne said...

My family always buys the grain pie from a local Italian bakery at Easter and, honestly, my mom is the only one who eats it. But...it doesn't have chocolate chips. So that's probably the main source of the problem. Sounds delicious to me, although I'm sorry you had to get through so much trauma to make it! Hope your son is doing better!

Lauren said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe. The pie looks delicious and unique. My Italian grandma often made ricotta cheesecake but never a pie and I'm a pie gal. Can't wait to try this out!

The Urban Un-Martha said...

This looks delish and your pics are perfect! sagegoingongreen.blogspot.com

Valeria said...

oh this look soo good! It reminds me of Pastiera, that I can't wait to make once I get back home! :)

Josie Lee Susk√° said...

Your story is brilliant. What a trooper you are (mimosa in hand!)

Ruth said...

This looks awesome! I love the surface of the crust.

Kelly's Kitchen said...

This pie is gorgeous! I always love reading about Italian family recipes. I can't wait to try this!

Kelly said...

WOW your blog is fantastic and this Ricotta Pie is to die for! All your pictures are so beautiful! I'm looking forward to seeing your future posts! :)

Tara said...

I just tried this pie yesterday! It turned out perfectly! I added the orange zest to the filling. This is also the first time I have topped a pie with the lattice pattern. It was so much easier than I thought it would be.

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