All photos/art by Amy Traverso
We have a holiday-intensive life, celebrating Passover at home and with my husband’s family, and Easter with my family. This year, we’re headed to my sister’s for Easter Sunday and my job is to do dessert–my favorite duty.
Thinking about what to make, I was reminded of a journal of recipes that I started in my teens and now keep on a bookshelf in the dining room. It’s a little Italian book with blue marbled paper on the cover and recipes copied in my best 15-year-old handwriting. My intention was to illustrate each page, but I lost steam after a few tries (I’m not much of an artist). Still, it’s a sweet reminder of early ambitions.
I had always intended to make this Torta di Ricotta that I copied in there so many years ago, but I never did get around to it. I can’t even remember where I found the recipe. But this seems as good an opportunity as any to try it. I’m on the fence about using the old-fashioned citron, though. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Torta di Ricotta
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Cognac
For the filling:
5 tablespoons chopped almonds or pignoli nuts
2 cups chopped citron
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-milk ricotta
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Garnish: Confectioner’s sugar
To make the pastry , sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Sprinkle with Cognac and work the dough with your hands until smooth. Roll into a ball, then press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and put away to chill for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Meanwhile, butter a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Next make the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the chopped nuts, citron, and flour, then add the ricotta. In a large bowl, using a standing or hand-held mixer, beat the eggs until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar in a slow stream and beat until thick and pale, then stir in almond extract.
Spoon about one-third of the egg mixture into the cheese mixture and gently fold in until evenly mixed. Add remaining eggs and fold in as well. Set aside.
Unwrap pastry dough on a well-floured surface, then cut away one-third of the dough and set aside. Roll the remaining two-thirds of the dough out into a 12-inch circle and gently transfer to the prepared pie dish. Cut away any excess dough from the edges and crimp using a fork. Pour the cheese filling into the crust. Take the remaining one-third of the dough and roll that out into a 10-inch circle. Cut the pastry into 3/4-inch strips and lay them over the cheese in a lattice pattern. Bake until the crust is browned and filling is set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely at room temperature, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.