As predictable as they come, this post is about a stunning lemon ricotta pie because, surprise, it’s Pi Day!.
Simple ingredients make the best desserts. I’ve always loved that about Italian food, how they take a basic ingredient and turn it into an amazing dish. Case in point is rice and risotto (this mushroom scallion risotto being one of my first choices).
First, let’s talk ricotta.
Are you familiar with it?
It’s a much-loved ingredient, everywhere. Not only for pies but for savory dishes, such as the famous oven baked ricotta, a crowd pleaser if there ever was one, and so ridiculously easy to make! Here in Buenos Aires, where I live, people go absolutely nuts whenever I post something with it. It’s insane how we love it.
I always use whole milk supermarket ricotta for this pie. You can also make your own and the flavor will improve a lot.
A version of this pie, but with a double crust, is very traditional here.
I find the upper dough adds little to the final pie, so I omit it, and go for this gorgeous, single crust lemon ricotta pie, with a hint of marsala, a sweet baking wine that adds just a touch of depth. You can omit it of course. Add an extra dash of vanilla.
The dough is a tad softer than regular sweet pie dough, which we want to be flaky and crunchy whenever possible, and bake it blind to achieve that. Here we go for a more tender one and bake it directly with the filling.
As with any sweet dough, you can make it in the food processor and keep it in the fridge, well wrapped, for a few days, or freeze it for up to a month. It’s very friendly when rolling it and doesn’t need to be very thin, like, say, a crust for a chocolate french tart.
The recipe is adapted from a fantastic cookbook, The Italian Baker, by Carol Field. It was revamped and printed again not long ago I think, and I highly recommend it for Italian sweets and baking.
I know this lemon ricotta pie is not on your Thanksgiving pie list, but it should be included in every other list you have. Cross my heart. Once you get familiar (in case you aren’t) with this type of creamy pie, you’ll add it to your list of great recipes, those you make again and again.
As far as Italian desserts go, this creamy lemon ricotta pie will make a fan out of you, so freaking delicious I can’t explain.
- 2 1/4 cups 300g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup 100g sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup 220g unsalted butter, cold and in pieces
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 pound whole milk ricotta drained if it’s too watery
- 1/2 cup 100g sugar
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 4 eggs separated and at room tº
- 1/4 cup 50g cream
- 1/4 cup 75g sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 if not using marsala
- Pinch of salt
- 3 Tablespoons Marsala wine optional
- Zest of 1 lemon
- In a food processor pulse a few time to mix flour, sugar and salt.
- Scatter butter pieces on top and mix until you have butter the size of peas.
- Add egg and yolk and process using on/off until it starts to come together. Don’t let it form a ball. It should come together when you pinch it with your fingers.
- Turn it onto the counter and press it together to form a flat disk. I put it inside a plastic bag and aid myself with the bag while pressing my knuckles until it comes together. That way I don’t touch the dough unnecessarily.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- When ready to bake, roll it on a lightly floured counter until a few inches bigger than the pie plate.
- Carefully line the pan and pinch the edges. You might need to cut a few overhanging pieces.
- Prick the bottom and refrigerate or freeze (better).
- Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Mix ricotta and gradually add sugar and flour until creamy. You can do this by hand, it just needs to be well integrated.
- Add egg yolks, cream, sour cream, marsala if using, vanilla and zest. Mix well.
- Beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks and add in 2 parts to the ricotta mixture.
- It should be integrated by don’t mix too much.
- Pour into the cold pie shell and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is quite firm and golden.
- Let cool on wire rack.
- It can be kept at room tº or refrigerated.
barely adapted from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field