A Raisin-Ricotta Crostata for Easter

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Raisin-Ricotta Crostata

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

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. Afterall, 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.

Raisin-Ricotta Crostata Raisin-Ricotta Crostata for Easter

Raisin-Ricotta Crostata

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Published
Raisin-Ricotta Crostata

Ingredients

  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup Marsala wine
  • pasta frolla (divded into 2 discs, see recipe)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 2 large egg yolks (lightly beaten)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese (preferably sheep's milk, drained)

Directions

Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour the Marsala over them to cover. Let them soak until plump and juicy looking, at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger disc of pasta frolla into an 11 to 12-inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Carefully wrap the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan letting the excess drape over the sides. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer beat the eggs, sugar, and cinnamon together until light and fluffy, then add the ricotta and continue to beat until very smooth and creamy. Drain the raisins well and stir them into the ricotta mixture. Remove the chilled tart pan from the refrigerator and spoon the ricotta mixture into the pan, smoothing the top with the back of the spoon.

Roll out the remaining disc of dough into a 10-inch round a generous 1/8 inch thick, and cut it into ½-inch-wide strips. Carefully place the strips over the filled tart shell in a lattice pattern, gently pressing the ends of the strips into the sides of the tart shell. Use the rolling pin or the palm of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough.

Bake the crostata on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is puffed and just set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool somewhat then remove the ring of the tart pan and let the crostata cool completely.

Serve at room temperature.

Pasta Frolla (Italian Sweet Pastry Dough)

Print This Recipe Total time Yield one 9-inch to 11-inch lattice-top crostataSource Domenica Marchetti via NPRPublished

If you make a 9-inch crostata, you will have some leftover dough, which you can rewrap and freeze for future use, or roll out, cut into shapes and make cookies. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Sour Cherry and Apricot Tart made with Pasta Frolla (Italian Sweet Pastry Dough)

Ingredients

  • 3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for the work surface)
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • zest of 1 lemon (finely grated)
  • zest of 1 orange (finely grated)
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into ½-inch cubes)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large eggs yolks

Directions

Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon and orange zests in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine the ingredients. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolks and process until the dough just begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Knead it briefly and shape it into 2 discs (one slightly larger than the other). Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled (overnight is fine). Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it is just pliable enough to roll, but not too soft to work with.