Wednesday, April 4

What threat? I Made You a Ricotta Pie.

When I think of Easter, I think of pies. Not chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, or colorful Easter eggs, but delicious Italian pies, especially ricotta.

Growing up, my mom always prepared a traditional and labor intensive Easter dinner. In truth, she could have skipped the whole thing and just served her pies. In the week before Easter Sunday, our house became a dairy. The shelves in the second refrigerator in our basement sagged from countless dozens of eggs, pints of cream, pounds of butter, and tubs of ricotta cheese needed for our pie production.

Although it can be made year-round, ricotta pie (torta di ricotta) is an Italian cheesecake that is especially associated with Easter. There are many regional recipes for ricotta pie, some savory and some sweet. Savory versions usually include meats and additional cheeses, while sweet pies are typically flavored with citrus, nuts, and chocolate.

When I called my mom for her recipe last week, I learned that it was Nan's and that it had a storied past. “Nan was the first person in the family to use pineapple instead of citron in her ricotta pie. And boy were her sisters jealous!” I had no idea Nan was a baking maverick.

Rumor has it that Nan thought her sisters' pies were “too dark” because they used that “awful citron.” (Nan was never one to mince words.) In 1945 she dropped her own bomb on Easter Sunday by showing up to dinner with her new-fangled ricotta pie with pineapple. It was as yellow as an Easter chick. There were mumblings in Italian and raised eyebrows among the women. When dessert time came, all the men agreed: Nan's pie was the best--beautiful and sweet. The women conceded victory. Well, that's the way Nan would tell it anyway.

My family has been enjoying this ricotta pie recipe for the past 62 Easters. It really is a treat. We would eat it for breakfast (along with the rice pie and pizza gain) every morning the week after Easter. It apparently can even be used to get your child into college. In an episode of The Soprano’s, Carmela tries to bribe a woman to write a letter of recommendation for Meadow.

Carmela: "Threat, what threatening? I brought you a ricotta pie and high school transcripts so you could write a letter of recommendation for my little daughter to Georgetown."

I still laugh every time I see that scene. If the mob uses pineapple ricotta pie to muscle people, then it must be something special.

This was my first ricotta pie. My mom told me it’s the “easiest Easter dessert to make.” It was, except that my crust needs a little work. It wasn’t as beautiful as Mom’s, but the texture of the pie was like hers: rich, dense, and velvety ricotta that holds its shape perfectly when sliced.



Italian Ricotta Pie with Pineapple
Print recipe only here. (NOTE: The print version of this recipe had errors in it and has been changed. My apologies to those of you who ended up with "too much filling.")

Pie Crust:

For the last few years, my mom has used Nick Malgieri’s crust recipe from his cookbook How to Bake, so that’s what I used. This recipe will make 2 (two) 9-inch crusts. This ricotta pie uses only a bottom crust, so you will have enough dough for a second pie.

3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (chilled)
3 large eggs

Filling: This is all Nan. This will make enough filling for 2 (two) 9-inch pies. Simply cut in half for one.

2 pounds ricotta cheese (drained)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 (20-ounce) can of crushed pineapple (drained)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (dusted on top of pie, and slightly swirled)

For the dough, combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times to mix the butter in finely. Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball. Invert the dough to a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it while preparing the filling. You may keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.

If like me, you don’t have a processor, then follow these instructions: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add chunks of the chilled butter. Using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as you can, form a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill for about 20 minutes before rolling out. You may keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.

For the filling, place the ricotta in one strainer and the pineapple in another for at least 1-1/2 hours, or preferably overnight. Discard the liquids. This will create a thicker pie filling and keep the crust crispier. Add the ricotta to a large mixing bowl, and beat it smooth with a rubber spatula. Beat in the heavy cream, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, making sure the texture is smooth. Finally, stir in the pineapple.

When you are ready to bake, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently knead it on a floured surface until it is smooth and malleable. Roll the dough into a 10-inch disk.

Coat the pie plate with cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the prepared plate and press well into the bottom and sides of the plate. Use the back of a knife to remove the excess dough at the rim of the plate. Create a crust by pinching the dough between your thumb and forefinger.

When you are ready to bake the pie, place the pie plate on the oven rack, then pour the filling inside the pie crust. (Mom’s sage advice for not spilling the filling.) Pour right to the top of the pie plate leaving just a bit of room for the filling to puff up. Sprinkle the top of the pie with ground cinnamon. If you have some extra filling left over as I did, you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekins for a crustless version, and follow the same baking instructions. Or you can simply discard.

Bake the pie at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 25-35 minutes. The filling should be slightly puffed and golden and “set,” meaning it should be firm not jiggly when you gently move the pie plate. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.



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68 comments:

Susan said...

My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your caring comments and sound advice. You can’t imagine how much better your thoughtful remarks made me feel. I took many of your suggestions, and somewhere in the mix of Eastern and Western medicine, my problem is nearly resolved. I can’t wait to begin visiting you all again.

Pille said...

Glad to hear that you're feeling a bit better now, Susan!
Interesting to read about ricotta cakes being the centrepiece in Italy during Easter. It's the same in Estonia - we eat lots of (poultry!) eggs AND a lot of curd cheese, which is very similar to ricotta. When living in Scotland, I was very confused with the centrality of chocolate during Easter, and I'm glad to see that this hasn't really happened here yet.
I was thinking of including oranges in my ricotta/curd cheese cake this year, but I'm tempted to use pineapple now:-)

Rachel said...

It looks delightful!

gilly said...

Hi Susan, I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better! This pie looks absolutely amazing - I love the idea of combining ricotta with pineapple... beautiful!

Pip said...

Susan, welcome back! :)
Your nan should be a great woman, I just loved your story! The torta di ricotta really is a classic Italian pie, one of my favourites ever. I make it all over the year, but for Easter sunday I make a different version, called "Pastiera napoletana". It's typical from Naples (south of Italy) and it also has candied peels, boiled wheat, and orange blossom's water in the filling. I liked your version with pineapple, I should try it soon!!

Asha said...

Happy Easter:))

I know you already started your's!Ricotta pie looks fabulous,with Pineapple! Oh man!!YUM!

Jennifer Jeffrey said...

What a gorgeous pie! Looks like Easter...

Patricia Scarpin said...

You're back!!! Yay!!! :D

I truly hope you're feeling better, Susan - you've been missed around here, sweetie!

The ricotta pies are fabulous - my grandmother (my grandfather was Italian) make these all the time, but never with pineapple. Now I guess I'll make her jealous when I tell her about this. :)

bea at La tartine gourmande said...

Yum I love this kind of pie! All the more as I just bought delicious local ricotta yesterday and had some for lunch. Since I have some leftovers, you are giving me ideas.

Terry B said...

Welcome back, Susan! I was delighted to see a comment from you on my latest post--and even better to find a new post from you here.

Nan and her sisters sound like a lively crew. Tales of sibling rivalry among older relatives can be so entertaining. My grandmother and my great aunt always seemed to be picking and sniping at each other at family gatherings. But come New Year's Eve, they would always sit at the kitchen table, drinking highballs and happily sharing stories of childhood on the farm.

Brilynn said...

I've never made ricotta pie, but I've used it in cheesecake, is it similar? I like the pineapple addition.

Anali said...

Happy Easter Susan! Glad you are feeling betta and baking again! : )

This pie looks wonderful! I'll have to put this on my "to bake list!"

Anh said...

Susan, glad to see you are back!

Now, the ricotta pie looks so delicious! I love pie and ricotta, so this must be a good match. And the pineapple, love that addition, too.

Lucy said...

Susan, you've been sorely missed my dear!

What a comeback recipe. It's Passover in my house, so no pie-crusts. I'm afraid it will have to wait until next week (well I'm not Jewish, but a whole pie, eaten on my own would seem a bit excessive and cruel to those being observant - it sounds so wonderful).

This looks divine. And I love your nan's trail-blazing sense of style.

aria said...

ohhhhh oh oh this looks heavenly! so perfect for easter too. what could be better than pineapple and ricitta pie, YUM!

such the season for ricotta pies i just made a savory one, mmmm.

i have to make this very sooooon, drool.

T.W. Barritt said...

"Yellow as an Easter Chick!" You make me smile, and have gotten me into the spirit of the season! I've only just started experimenting with sweet ricotta pie and the results are so delicious -- what an easy and beautiful way to celebrate the holiday. Glad you are on the mend!

Mikaela said...

Welcome back! Hope you're feeling better :)

Deborah Dowd said...

I never thought of a ricotta pie except as savory, ut the combination with pineapple sounds wonderful! Glad to hear you are feeling better!

Rachael said...

Susan - I hope you feel better!!!

I am very excited that you have posted this recipe, since I am headed to my fiance's very italian family easter celebration (I am Jewish) this weekend. I need to bring something and I haven't a clue what to bring. They've got dessert covered but now you've got me headed on the right track: a savory version of this sounds perfect.

Sig said...

Hey Susan, so glad to see you back and to know that you are feeling better! And what a comeback with that delicious looking Pie! Beautiful... :)

Chris said...

Once again - genius! I love ricotta pies. LOVE them. I love reading your stories and pass on the links often.

I am so glad to see you're back!

tigerfish said...

Good to hear from you again! Hope you are fine and well now. Have not tried a ricotta pie before but I'm in for a savory pie anytime. :D

Lis said...

How funny! I just made this pie this past Sunday! heheee

Although my family's recipe is slightly different.. we put the rice in along with the ricotta and sometimes we don't even make a crust - weird, eh? But we do everything else the same right down to the vanilla, pineapple and cinnamon. :D

Great story - as always! I love hearing about your family.

Glad you are back.. you were missed! xoxox

Lydia said...

Welcome back! I just found a lovely ricotta pie at Scialo Bros. this week. Thank goodness there are still Italians on the Hill!

Sushma said...

I came across your blog and needless to say you have an array of wonderful recipes..Glad that i found your blog

-Sushma

sher said...

So glad your back! I've always wanted to make this pie. Your pictures are beautiful--the pie looks delicious!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

About a year ago, I made fresh ricotta and made a cheese cake with it. It was heaven!! I'm thinking it's time to do it again and use pineapple.
So glad you're feeling better.

Gattina said...

Glad to see you back Susan!
Oh I love your Nan's story! Love to hear how theose people reacted after saw her pie, proporly Nan unable to hide her triumphant grin :) :)
Susan, I've read one of the books written by Nick Malgier, an old one though, he looked so thin (kekee). Very techincal, but very good. I know your pie recipe must be a good one! Hey, your crust... where is the imperfection? :)
I'm going to make pasqualina on Saturday, my first time *cross finger*
Happy Easter!

valentinA ® said...

Susan, so happy to see you back on track & sharing with us such a delicious ricotta pie! It looks so comforting & utterly yummy & I wouldn't even think about exchanging that for an easter egg!!!

Shawnda said...

Welcome back!

Oh, how I wish that I hadn't already promised to make cupcakes and cookies for Saturday and Pecan Pie for Sunday.

I need another holiday ASAP to make this pie :) It sounds like pure, rich heaven!

Mishmash ! said...

Susan you did come back with a bang..enjoyed reading about your family traditions and also about ur nan..hmm...me too made a post recently on one of my grandma's signature dish as I was missing her badly...

Happy Easter dear..Have lots of fun and food :)

Shn

bazu said...

I'm glad you're feeling better, Susan! And I love this story about your grandma and how she changed the ricotta pie recipe- from the looks of it, for the better.

Oh, and I just wanted to let you know that your brussels sprouts have become quite a food meme! I keep getting emails or comments that people have made it and have been amazed at how much they liked it. All the credit goes to you, of course!

veron said...

I'm happy you are back to blogging , Susan. I always enjoy your stories about your grandmother, she's a woman of strong convictions from what I read. The ricotta pie looks os so divine. Happy Easter!

burcu said...

good see you back! That was a great story and story telling, btw.

Chubbypanda said...

Wow. Muscle me anytime. Better yet, make me a pie I can't refuse.

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Looks like a sensational combination!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're feeling better, we missed you here in the food bloggie world! I have a hard time getting my recipes to come out just like my Mom's but oh well, what can you do? Your pie looks quite delicious though. I'd love to taste it!


Ari (Baking and Books)

bee said...

good to see you back, susan. the pie looks very enticing.

Amy said...

Welcome back! I'm so glad you're feeling better. The pie looks deliciously creamy and pineapple is so yummy.

Susan said...

Pille-Thanks! How interesting that your Estonian traditions are similar. I've never had curd, but I'm sure it's great with citrus.

Rachel-Thanks!

Gilly-Thanks! The flavors really are great together.

Pip-I've read a lot about the Pastiera Napoletana. The recipes I've found vary slightly, but the orange blossom water sounds lovely.

Asha-Happy Easter to you!

Jennifer-Thank you so much!

Patricia-Oh, I really appreciate that! It's great to be back! Yeah, let me know what she says. ;)

Bea-Look forward to seeing what ideas you create.

Terry-Thanks! It can be a great form of inexpensive entertainment!

Brilynn-I'm not sure as I've never made traditional cheesecake; I'll find out.

Anali-Thanks a lot! Hope you try it.

Anh-Then I'm sure you'll love this pie. Thanks so much!

Lucy-How sweet of you to say!

Aria-Funny...Jeff was wondering if I'd make a savory version next.

T.W.-You just made me smile as well. Thanks!

Mikaela-Thanks! I'm feeling much better.

Deborah-Pineapple has been my family's favorite for years. Thanks!

Rachael-Oh, thanks! They would love a savory version, I'm sure.

Sig-That's so kind of you to say!

Chris-How generous of you to pass on my links! Thank you so much.

Tigerfish-Thanks a lot!
I hope you try one; it's really easy.

Lis-Really? Is this an example of cyber synchronicity? My family does rice pies too but without the ricotta. Thanks so much for your notes of concern and encouragement. You really are dear.

Lydia-It's great to be back!

Sushma-Thanks for visiting; I'm glad you like it!

Sher-Thanks! It's really easy, so I hope you try it.

Tanna-Thanks so much!

Gattina-I'll cross my fingers, but I know you won't need me to!

Valentina-Oh, thanks! Not even for a pretty pink egg? ;)

Shawnda-Thanks! Aw, it'll taste just as good on any day. ;)

Shn-I really appreciate that. Cooking really does renew that connection to missed ones, doesn't it? Happy Easter to you as well.

Bazu-I can see Nan smiling now! And about the brussels sprouts...you just made my day. :)

Veronica-Well said about Nan. Thanks for the compliment!

Burcu-Thanks! Glad you liked it.

Chubbypanda-I was thinking about The Godfather too...:)

Christine-Why, thanks!

Ari-That makes me feel good!

Bee-Thanks! I'm so glad you like it.

scribbit said...

That looks fabulous. My oldest has recently developed an huge affection for ricotta, and as I was trying to come up with a good dessert for Sunday I think I will give her this to make.

Glad to hear your skin is so soft :)

Monika Korngut said...

This dish is amazing, I love the story with you Nan. I think its brilliant to put pinapple in this ricotta pie. Happy Easter :-)

Melody Polakow said...

I love the history here.. your Nan must have been so proud to carry her pie into the family.

Deb said...

Not only does it look delish, but I am flattered most that you share some of your most treasured possessins, family recipes. They hold our most precious memories and help others on their way to creating their own! Keep em coming!

Homesick Texan said...

What a gorgeous dessert--and I'm so happy to learn I'm not the only one out there without a food processor!

scribbit said...

Okay I made this last night and it was tasty, and well-loved by my thirteen year-old ricotta junkie. It did, however, make much more than I thought--2 9" pies but a ramekin left over. This isn't necessarily bad though. :)

Susan said...

Amy-Thanks! It's great to be back.

Scribbit-Ah, just one of the perks of being married to a dermatologist. ;)

Monika-The pineapple is such a fresh flavor.

Melody-She was!

Deb-It's my pleasure!

Lisa-I wouldn't even know what to do with one!

Michelle-Hmmm...don't know why. Mine made 1 pie and about 3 ramekins-worth leftover. Glad it wasn't a bad thing though. ;)

Melting Wok said...

I've bookmarked this pie post !! I simply love pies, especially something different like this one, and love all cheese, and have not try riccota cheese before :( One question, does the cheese comes in like the regular packaged cheese, where do I look in the market ?

fudgella said...

Ricotta pies, pastiera and cheesecakes are such a treat for me, and this one looks gorgeous... what an amazing pie! I really like your blog, great pictures and tasty recipes too! Greetings from Italy! :)

Linda said...

susan - glad to see your up and running again. hope you are feeling tons better -- you were missed. this pie looks so wonderful. how come my italian relatives never prepared this! they would always make fried ricotta though... not a fan myself (im scared of fried things!)

this looks amazing, and i can't wait to try it -- maybe i'll make it for my family next year.

hope you had a lovely holiday!

Orchidea said...

This is a very good pie, I just love ricotta pie but I never tried with pineapple. This reminds me a lot of my favorite ricotta pie called PASTIERA, it is a typical Easter ricotta pie from Neaples... I will post the recipe soon. Every family in Italy has pastiera on the table at Easter... do you know it? Where does you family come form in Italy?
Ciao.

Helene said...

Glad to have you back. Gorgeous pie. Never made one with pineapple, but very tempted to do so after seeing yours.

Anonymous said...

I was surfing for a Ricotta Pie receipe so we could have a Last Soprano's watch party. My husband always wants spagetti or some pasta dish after watching. I said I'd make him one of Carm's Ricot pies for the party. (I remember the quote too!)Yours looks great I'm sure everyone will enjoy it, or else.

Laura Rebecca said...

Thanks for the recipe. The pie looks beautiful. We never had ricotta pie at my family's gatherings (they were into all sorts of Italian cookies) so I'm excited to see a good recipe for Ricotta pie!

Anonymous said...

I love your cooking! Even my favorite Italian cheese dishes are not so good!

Connie Barbour said...

I also had enough filling for two pies - could it be that I did not drain the ricotta and pineapple long enough? Absolutely delicious!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Hi Connie-I would think so; I can't imagine what else it could be. I think I'm going to make the recipe again to double check because I didn't have that much leftover. If I need to change it, I will. I want to make sure it's correct, after all. Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it. -Susan

Anonymous said...

FYI -- the print version of the recipe at http://foodblogga.googlepages.com/italianricottapie has different measurements. Looks like some, but not all, of the ingredients are doubled for two pies. Maybe this is why some commenters (including me) had way more filling than we expected?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

NOTE: The print version of this recipe had errors in it and has been changed. My apologies to those of you who ended up with "too much filling."

redmenace said...

Why does my pretty edged pie crust always try to slink back down in the pie pan while yours stands up like a good little soldier? Any thoughts? Looks delicious!

http://achowlife.blogspot.com/

Marcy said...

Excellent pie... everyone loved it. I had some extra filling, no worries! I put them in ramekins and pulled one out of the freezer two days later with my afternoon cup of coffee! YUM!

Thanks!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

marcy-I'm so happy to hear it. I love those little crustless ramekin versions too.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much. My boss is Italian and we just celebrated his 25th year with the company. I made these pies as part of his celebration lunch and those who have had them before raved about them. Just like Nona's!

I've never had the pie before myself, but was intrigued when Carmella gave one to her neighbor. Now I know. It's not a threat, it's a ricotta pie!

Roger in PA said...

I found this recipe thee other day and had to try it. I am NOT a baker (my wife is). I do everything else but bake!

This is the first crust I have ever made and it was easy! The Ricotta filling with the pineapple is amazing. We have a local Italian cheese store so I was able to score some very fresh ricotta. It was excellent - thank you for posting Nan's recipe!!

Anonymous said...

I believe their orgins to this
ricotta pie are ancient jewish roman's dish or Sephardic Jewish.
Their are a lot of similarities
to recipies such as Marzipan,biscotti. sesame cookies,
fried dough w/ sugar or honey. To
sephardic recipies. Sicily And Naples had a very jewish Communite up until the Spanish Inquisition

Anonymous said...

Hah, I was looking for a recipe like this exactly because of that Soprano's episode. Thank you!

Lucia said...

Thank you for posting this recipe! I could not find my mom's and made yours instead. Love the story and the pie looks great. I have made your rice pie and love it.

Rebecca said...

Susan, as always,I enjoy reading your posts--I feel like part of the family. Your ricotta pie with pineapple sounds wonderful! I linked to this post in my version of the Argentine Tarta de Ricota! Enjoy!

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