Easter is a big deal in Italy and some sort of ricotta pie is quite often a part of the Italian holiday table. The most traditional Easter pie is the pastiera. It’s a lattice-topped, sweet-and-savory torte filled with ricotta, beaten eggs, and wheat berries. It’s often flavored with candied fruits and a dash of sugar and cinnamon. As much as I like the idea of this traditional Easter pastiera I think that it may be an acquired taste. I’m not saying I dislike pastiera but – much like Christmastime fruitcake – I’ve yet to taste a version that inspires me to create my own. Still, fresh sheep’s milk ricotta does seem to perfectly suit the holiday so I’ve turned to another lattice-embellished Italian tart – the ricotta crostata.
Raisin-Ricotta Crostata. That’s such a happy little rhyme. In fact, it’s practically poetry so I don’t feel I need to say much more. But I would like you to know that this simple, not-too-sweet Italian tart is reminiscent of a cheesecake with a higher crust-to-filling ratio. Which also sounds like music to my ears because the crust is a sweet Italian pastry known as pasta frolla. It’s richer, silkier, and of course sweeter than the all-butter slightly salty French pastry crust I make by rote. As for the filling in this Raisin-Ricotta Crostata, well, that’s where this recipe really shines. It’s a barely sweet, shallow layer of ricotta beaten until smooth then laced with booze-soaked golden raisins. I’ve also scented it with just enough cinnamon to add complexity without making it taste like Christmas. After all, it’s an Easter pie. Happy Easter. GREG
PS: It’s well worth seeking out really good fresh sheep’s milk ricotta for this recipe because you will be able to taste the tang of it against the sweet pastry dough. Cow’s milk ricotta makes a perfectly delicious ricotta crostata too, just make sure to drain it well.