When most young children think of Easter, they think of the Easter Bunny, chocolate, Easter baskets, beautifully dyed eggs, egg hunts, etc. While all this is part of my fond memories of Easter, what really sticks out in my mind are the pies! The variety of Easter pies that came in and out of our house during this particular holiday season was quite amazing. There were the non-sweet pies of cured meats, cheeses and eggs, such as Pizza Rustica and Pizzagaina, and then the sweet pie varieties, that contained ingredients such as ricotta,eggs, sugar, rice and grains. It seemed that families all had their own distinct version, and wanted to let you taste their family recipe. So as fast as my mother could make her Easter pies, they went out the door to friends and family just as quickly. For days before and after Easter Sunday, our doorbell was ringing with all sorts of Easter pies, coming and going. It was fun to taste and judge the pies of others. Who had room for chocolate!!
This recipe for Easter Sweet Ricotta Pie, or “Pizza Dolce” as my mother calls it, came from her mother’s family in southern Italy, near Naples. My mother only rarely made the versions with rice or faro, as she was busy making this pie for all her brothers and sisters and their families. She wanted to keep this tradition alive even after her mother was gone.
I’m going to put a modern spin on this recipe by making the crust in the KitchenAid, using the dough hook. While I miss the rhythmic, old fashioned way of doing this by hand, mixing in one egg at a time into the well of flour and sugar, I was pressed for time, as we all are now and then. It worked beautifully. I hope you enjoy!
** This recipe will make 2, 9 inch pies. It is easy to halve the recipe and just make one. Sometimes, I make the double recipe for the crust, using half for a single pie (just make half the filling recipe), and then I form the other half of the crust dough into a ball and bake it. You can slice this, and enjoy enjoy it with a cappuccino in the morning!
3 lbs ricotta
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 shots of whiskey
the zest of one orange
6 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 stick of butter, melted
3 tsp. vanilla
6 tsp. baking powder
zest of one orange
1. Beat all the wet ingredients in the KitchenAid, with dough attachment. Then add all the dry ingredients. Beat until a moist dough forms. Or use the “by hand” method of forming the dry ingredients into a well, and put the wet ingredients into the center. Gently incorporate all the ingredients. If you choose this method, please see pictures and details under my December recipe for “Ribbons.”
2. Divide the dough into 2/3 and 1/3. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit, while you make the filling.
3. Put all the ingredients for the filling into the KitchenAid and blend until creamy. Certainly you can use a hand- held mixer for this.
4. Cut the 2/3 piece into two and roll out each and put in pie plates. This crust is on the thick side….thicker than usual pie crust.
5. Put filling in both.
6. Now roll out the 1/3 piece and cut strips ( about 2 inches wide) with a fluted pastry cutter. Place strips on top in a manner that forms a lattice.
7. Cover the edges with aluminum foil.
8. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Then shut the oven and leave inside for a half hour more. If after the hour, the crust is not golden, raise the oven temperature to 350 for about about 10 minutes, before turning off the oven.
9. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
**10. If you have leftover ricotta, enjoy it on a piece of toast, sprinkled with a little sugar and cinnamon. This is also delicious with a cup of cappuccino for breakfast or any time.