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Posts Tagged ‘Italian-style ricotta cake recipe’

Ever since my beloved neighbour June taught me to make her pastry a couple of years ago, I’ve used it exclusively for all of my sweet pies and desserts.

I used to make it by hand, rubbing in the butter and mixing in the eggs, until I discovered how much easier it is to use the food processor.  I get a much more consistent result as well, possibly a product of not overworking the dough.

Our food processor doesn’t live on the bench, so whenever I drag it out, I try to make a couple of batches of pastry dough.  It freezes very well, and can easily be defrosted in time to make apple pie for dinner!

The secret to June’s pastry is the icing sugar mixture she uses (not pure icing sugar).  I believe it’s also known as confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar in the US. I find using scales to weigh out my quantities always gives me the best result, but I’ve included approximate cup measures  in the recipe as well.

One thing – this can be quite a sticky dough, depending on the weather, the size of your eggs, and the amount of liquid your flour will absorb.  Please have some flour on standby in case you need to add a little – but try not to add too much or overwork the dough, or it will toughen up.

June’s Pastry

  • 225g (1½ cups) plain (AP) flour
  • 225g (1½ cups) bakers/flour or continental flour (June uses the latter)
  • 150g (1¼ cups) icing sugar mixture (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 250g (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs or 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks

Note: for instructions on how to make this pastry by hand, please see this earlier post.

1. Measure the flour and icing sugar, and then tip both into the bowl of a large food processor.

2. Add the cold butter, cut into chunks.

3. Pulse the food processor until the butter is evenly incorporated and the mixture looks like coarse semolina.  This will only take a few short pulses.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the 2 eggs (or 1 egg plus two egg yolks) briefly with a fork.  With the food processor running, pour the egg through the chute of the food processor.  The mixture will quickly combine into a ball of dough – stop as soon as this happens, and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench.

5. Gently work the dough together, adding a little flour if necessary, but handle it as little as possible to prevent it toughening up.  The pastry is now finished, and needs just a short chilling time in the fridge before rolling out.

As this can be quite a sticky dough, I usually roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper.  It’s the perfect foil for almost every sweet pastry dessert – I’ve used it for pies, galettes, slices and tarts.

Here it is in Dan Lepard’s Bay Custard Tart recipe

…and it forms the base of our ricotta cake recipe

The recipe makes approximately 900g of dough, which is enough for two apple pies.  I usually divide the finished dough in half and freeze it in plastic bags, in readiness for the next time Small Man has a hard day at school!

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Ricotta cheesecake, or simply “ricotta cake” as it’s known around these parts, is a tricky dish to get right.  I couldn’t find any recipes for this fluffy textured Italian-style cheesecake that’s so popular in Sydney Inner West, so I had to concoct my own. It’s taken eight attempts to finally come up with one that I’m completely happy with.  The neighbours are sick to death of eating my rejects!

Fig Jam and Lime Cordial Ricotta Cake

Filling:

  • 750g dry ricotta (edit: you can use well drained normal ricotta if you can’t buy the drier style – which is what I’ve done here)
  • 375g thick sour cream
  • 45g cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1½   tsp vanilla
  • 225g icing sugar mixture (not pure icing sugar)

June’s Pastry

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 300g plain flour
  • 100g bread/bakers/continental flour
  • 150g icing sugar mixture (not pure icing sugar)
  • 2 eggs

Note: June’s pastry makes this recipe extra special, but if you were in a hurry, you could probably get away with substituting any sweet shortcrust pastry recipe, or even frozen sheets (though I haven’t tried it myself).  The filling is remarkably easy,  so if you cheat on the pastry, this would be quite a simple dish to put together.

1.  Make a batch of pastry, following the instructions here. Chill until required. Spray oil over the base and sides of a large, deep 10”/25cm flan tin with a removable base.

2.  Remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll out on a flour dusted surface or sheet of Bake until the pastry is wide enough to fully line the bottom and sides of the flan tin (you won’t need all the dough).  Gently fit the pastry into the flan tin and smooth out carefully.  Allow the dough to come up above the sides slightly (to allow for shrinkage).  This is a fiddly process as the pastry is quite soft.  Use a little flour for dusting, and feel free to patch the pastry if it tears.  Preheat oven to 150C with fan.

3. Make the filling: put the ricotta and sour cream in a large mixing bowl, and mix together with a large fork, breaking up the lumps as much as possible. Here’s a photo of the dry ricotta, so you know what to buy.  Don’t make the mistake of getting baked ricotta – you want dry fresh ricotta.

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4. Add the cornflour, icing sugar mixture, vanilla and egg yolks, and continue to stir until well combined. Note: only two egg yolks shown in this photo, but you need to add three.  These photos were taken when I was making the smaller cake below.

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5. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff.  Still using the fork, stir a large spoonful of egg white into the ricotta mixture until the mix lightens, then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the mix.  Pour into the pastry lined tin.

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5. Carefully place the cake into the oven and bake for 45 – 55 minutes at 150C with fan.  The cake will be ready when the crust is brown and the filling is set.  Do not overbake.  Cracks may appear on the surface, but don’t panic, as the cake will still taste wonderful.  Once cooked, allow the cake to cool completely in the oven with the door ajar, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight to allow the cake to fully set.  It really is best if you can make it the day before you need it, as it tastes much better on the second day.

6. Dust the cake with a generous amount of icing sugar before serving!

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. . . . .

This cake can also be made in an 8″/20cm springform round tin.  To make the filling for the smaller sized cake, use the following ingredients:

  • 500g dry ricotta (edit: you can use well drained normal ricotta if you can’t buy the drier style – which is what I’ve done here)
  • 250g thick sour cream
  • 30g cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 150g icing sugar mixture (not pure icing sugar)

The one I made cracked, but it still tasted fantastic!  Bake the smaller cake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the pastry is browned and the top is set.  Because the cake is baked at a relatively slow temperature, I’ve found it best to use metal tins to ensure the pastry cooks and browns properly.

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© copyright 2009 by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. All rights reserved.

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