Cheese pie {crostata di ricotta}

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient
2 cups Unsifted all purpose flour.
12 tablespoons Lard or butter,at room temperature but not soft.
4 \N Egg yolks.
¼ cup Sugar.
3 tablespoons Dry marsala wine.
1 teaspoon Freshly grated lemon peel.
½ teaspoon Salt. RICOTTA FILLING
5 cups Ricotta cheese.
½ cup Sugar.
1 tablespoon Flour.
½ teaspoon Salt.
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract.
1 teaspoon Freshly grated orange peel.
4 \N Egg yolks.
1 tablespoon White raisins,rinsed and drained.
1 tablespoon Diced candied citron.
2 tablespoons Slivered blanched almonds or pine nuts.
1 \N Egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water.


In a large mixing bowl,make a well in the center of two cups of flour.Drop into it the butter {or lard} ,egg yolks,sugar, Marsala, lemon peel and salt.With your fingertips mix the ingredients together,incorporating as much flour as you can.With the heels of your hands,work in the rest of the flour until the dough is smooth and can be gathered into a ball.Do not, however,knead the dough or work it any more than necessary.{If you have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment,all of the ingredients can be placed in the bowl at once and mixed at low speed until they are just combined.}The dough can be rolled out at once, but if it seems at all oily,refrigerate it for about 1 hour,or until it is firm but not hard.

Pre-heat the oven to 350^.Break off about ¼ of the dough,dust lightly with flour and cover with wax paper or plastic wrap ;set aside in the refrigerator.Reshape the rest of the dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth.With the heel of your hand,flatten the ball into a disc about 1 inch thick.Dust a little flour over both sides of the disc to prevent the dough from sticking,and begin rolling it out---starting from the center and rolling to within an inch of the far edge.Gently lift the dough,turn clockwise,and roll out again from the center to the far edge.Repeat lifting,turning and rolling until the disc is about ⅛ inch thick and at least 11 inches across.If the dough sticks to the board or cloth while you are rolling it out,lift it gently with a wide metal spatula and sprinkle a little flour under it.

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-11/2-inch spring-form or false-bottom cake pan.Then,starting at the nearest edge of the circle,lift the pastry and drape it over the rolling pin. Place the pin in the middle of the buttered pan,and unfold the pastry over it,leaving some slack in the center.Gently press the pastry into the bottom and around the sides of the pan,taking care not to stretch it.Roll the pin over the edge of the pan,pressing down hard to trim off the excess pastry around the top.

Unwrap the remaining pastry,place it on a lightly floured board or cloth,flattenit with the heel of your hand and roll it into a rectangle about 12 inches long.With a pastry wheel or sharp knife,cut the rectangle into long,even strips about 12 inch wide.


Combine the ricotta cheese with 1 2 cup of sugar,1 tablespoon flour,1 2 teaspoon salt,the vanilla,grated orange peel and egg yolks,and beat until they are thoroughly mixed.Stir in the raisins and the candied orange peel and citron.Spoon this filling into the partially baked pastry shell,spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.Sprinkle the top with slivered almonds or pine nuts,then weave or crisscross the pastry strips across the pie to make a lattice design.Brush the strips lightly with the egg-white -an d-water mixture.Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 to 1&¼ ho urs,or until the crust is golden and the filling is firm. Remove the pie from the oven and slide off the outside the outside rim of the pan.Cool the pie on a wire rack,leaving the bottom disc in place.If you would prefer to remove the disc before serving the pie,wait until the pie is cool,loosen the bottom crust with a wide metal spatula, and carefully slide the pie off the disc onto a round serving plate.

Fresh fruits like white grapes,served with crostata di ricotta,make a tangy, sweet contrast to the richness of the pie. Crostata di ricotta is one of the oldest Roman dishes.

From the files of Al Rice, North Pole Alaska. Feb 1994

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