Read on for Ricotta Cheese Pie with Maraschino Cherries Recipe instructions...
Making the Pie Crust.
(You can use this same recipe for any kind of pie crust. This is how my wife makes pie crust and it's the best I've ever had! This pie crust also works very well with this Ricotta Cheese Pie! So the crust is not how my grandma made but I like it better... PLEASE do not tell my family I said that.)
Put flour into a large bowl. Then add in salt. Mix well with a fork.
Add in shortening by cutting the shortening into the flour with a hand blender. You want to work with the flour and the shortening until you have pea size shortening crumbs. Do not over mix or you will have tough crust.
Gradually add 3 tbsp. of ice cold water as you are mixing mix with a fork. If needed, add 1 more tbsp. of ice cold water and mix some more. Squish the dough together with your hands. You may need to add a few more drops of water at this point if the dough is crumbly and not sticking together. Then put it on a floured cutting board. Shape the pie crust dough in the shape of the pan you will be using. In this case a rectangle because we will be using a baking pan.
Now start rolling out the pie crust dough with a rolling pin. Continue rolling out the dough making it thinner as you go. Lightly flour the top with a flour shaker and flip over and roll some more. Flip over your baking pan and place it on the dough to see if you are getting the dough big enough to cover pan bottom and sides. You might need to measure with pan, roll some more and measure with pan again until you get it right. If you get holes or tears in the dough you will have to repair the dough. You can do this by wetting your finger and then moistening the dough. Then you can place extra dough on the moistened dough with the hole or tear to patch it. This will act like a glue to patch things up. After you have patched it, you can roll over it and it will roll together nicely.
Once you have your dough rolled out to the right size. Plan the baking pan on the dough top side down and centered so the dough is overlapping all sides. Then pick up the cutting board, holding the bottom of the cutting board while holding the bottom of the baking pan and flip the whole thing over ending up with the baking pan sitting on the counter with the cutting board on top. Then carefully take the cutting board off the top of the baking pan making sure the dough is not sticking to the cutting board.
At this point it's a good time to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Important note to help prevent cracking: Place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom shelf before beginning to preheat the oven.
Making the Ricotta Cheese Pie Filling
(This is how my grandma made it and yes, it's really just cheese cake, but my family calls it cheese pie!)
Grate the peel of one lemon for lemon zest. Be sure you use the smallest hole side of your grater, this is a pain, but you need to use the smallest holes and scrape it off with a knife. The photo will help you with this.
Crack 8 large eggs into a large bowl. Mix well with a fork like you are making scrambled eggs. Add in the lemon zest and 1 cup of sugar. Keep mixing with a fork. Then add in 2 lbs. of Ricotta Cheese and keep mixing with a fork. Do not use an electric mixer because you will over mix and the ricotta cheese will break down too much. You will have to mix vigorously with a fork for a while until all the ricotta is mixed in well with the rest of the ingredients. It's OK to have a few ricotta cheese lumps still in the mix.
Chops up Maraschino Cherries so you end up with 1/4 cup after chopping. After you have chopped the cherries it's important that you dry them off. Get some paper towels and press the cherries drying them off as best you can. Then add these into the bow and mix some more with a fork. Now the filling is ready to add to the pan that has the crust already molded into it.
My Mom says that the cherries were only added for very special occasions! Very special!
After you have added the filling to the pan with crust you will need to work with the crust that is wrapped over the top of the baking pan. First, trim off the excess dough that is hanging over the side. Then carefully fold the dough over against the sides of the pan so the top of the crust is about 1/2" to 3/4" above the top of the filling.
Place the pan into a preheated oven at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. You do not want the top to get brown so keep an eye on it! You might need to cook it for up to 30 minutes. But if you overcook you might get cracks when it cools. Grandma's notes on this and I quote: "Cook until done, do not let it get brown".
When you are done cooking the pie, take the pan out of the oven and place on a trivet to cool for an hour. Cover loosely with wax paper so it's not tight around the edges. Then place in the refrigerator to cool overnight. Do not cut into the pie until it has cooled overnight. You are going to want to eat this right away, but don't do it or you gonna get smacked with a wooden spoon! After it has cooled over night, cut into squares and place on a platter and serve. YUM!
If if the middle of the pie filling is still a little bit wiggly or soft/moist after 25 minutes that's OK, it's going to solidify when it cools.
You will see in the photo's I have for this recipe that I have large cracks in the pie after it cooled. That is because I probably overcooked it a bit and maybe let it cool too quickly. Still, the pie was delicious! The cracks did not bother me at all :-)
Some important notes about cracks in the cheese pie or cheese cake:
These links below will help educate you about cheesecakes and the subjects of cracks in the cheesecake:
Cheesecake 101 - Everything you ever wanted to know about cheesecakes, really!
HOW TO PREVENT CRACKING CHEESECAKES - This is a great page and really goes into some detail about problems with cheesecakes and solutions to those problems. I really like what she says here on this page:
"The truth is that cheesecakes tend to crack even if you do everything right. Small cracks in my homemade cheesecakes never bothered me, but the large one that occasionally developed through the middle of it meant it was over baked. However, as long as it tasted delicious, which was 9 times out of 10, I served it anyway."
I have to agree with her on this.
Another very important tip about the cracks and how to prevent them.
This is from the baking 101 website linked above:
"This problem (the cracking) can be alleviated by increasing the oven's humidity. To do so, place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom shelf before beginning to preheat the oven."
I have to agree with her on this as well. I do this exact same thing when I make my Italian bread! Works great! I will try this next time I make the cheese cake and will let you know how it goes.
That's it! You're done..... Easy as Pie!