From a food perspective, Easter is my least favorite holiday (aside from the chocolate of course). Most of the foods I grew up eating on Easter are incredibly rich and usually contain ham, heavy cream, or in some cases, both. I do, however, have a soft spot for Easter desserts, most notably ricotta pie. My mom made this every year, and after she died seven years ago, I decided that I would continue the tradition. It hasn’t been easy. Inevitably, some sort of mishap occurs every time I attempt to make this pie. The first year, I realized that I didn’t have a pie plate or a rolling pin—two crucial instruments in pie making—so I made a frantic dash to Kmart to buy some. I also somehow thought the recipe would make two pies (it doesn’t) so each one only had about half of the amount of ricotta filling it should have had. The next year, my pie overflowed because the dish I made it in was too shallow. (Scraping it off of the oven was fun.) And don’t even get me started on the crust—a sweet variety that is made from scratch. I often talk to my mother when I am trying to roll it out, using many four letter words when it never fails to stick. The end result is usually a sub par pie. Edible for sure (it is, after all, made with ricotta and sugar) but by no means worth the effort—and aggravation—that went into making it.
This year, however, I am determined to make a perfect pie. Or as perfect as possible. I’ve got a new enameled cast iron pie dish (appropriately pastel blue in color) and tips from my Pilates instructor, Patrizia. Patrizia hails from Rome, and when I saw her this morning, she suggested I add a bit of orange extract, or even orange peel, to my filling, which gives the ricotta a refreshing taste. She also told me to let my dough sit for 20-30 minutes before kneading it, which would make it more pliable. Armed with this knowledge, I returned home and set to work.
First, I got out my ingredients:
And of course, the recipe (a more legible version is listed below):
Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the instructions for the crust very carefully (I threw everything in at once) which resulted in a sticky mess that no amount of time “resting” could fix. So alas, the first batch of dough went into the trash. My ricotta mixture, below, was already made, so I put it in the fridge while I set to making a new batch of dough. Btw, I added the orange extract and it tasted delicious:
I’m happy to say that the second batch of dough behaved beautifully! I let it sit for about 30 minutes, added some flour to it and it rolled out smooth as can be:
Actually, I had to reroll it out, because this version was too thin, but eventually it made it into the pie plate:
Then I added the filling:
I just checked on the pie, and it’s still slightly wobbly in the middle, so it’s now sitting in the oven, which is turned off, for another 10 minutes or so. I’ll post a final picture later. But this, dear readers, may be my best effort yet. Happy Easter!
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together. Add flour and baking powder, then one egg, mix, second egg, mix, third egg, mix.
1 1/2 pounds ricotta
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 capfuls orange extract (optional)
Stir together, then pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the middle of the pie is firm, not jiggly.