Anthony's Italian Recipes
Ricotta Cheese Pie Recipe
Anthony's Ricotta Cheese Pie Recipe Photos with Commentary
(Step by step photos of the cooking process for this recipe with commentary!)

This is yet another Christmas favorite. I am conviced that Italians take Christmas very seriously when it comes to food! Ricotta Cheese Pie (Cheese Cake) is one of my favorite Italian desserts. This is amazing stuff! I have placed some photos below that, hopefully, will help you along in your Italian culinary adventure. These are the details I feel are always missing in your average recipe book or recipe website.




Making Ricotta Cheese Pie like Grandma. Step by step photos Part 1
Making the pie crust.

Alright... Here we have everything we need to make this wonderful Italian desert. Ricotta Cheese pie is really cheesecake, by my family always called this Ricotta cheese pie. What you will need is sugar, lemon zest, flour, salt, butter flavored Crisco (or just regular Crisco) and Maraschino Cherries for special occasions. My Mom told me only to use the cherries on "very" special occasions!
When you measure the flour fill it up with flour, gently tap the sides with a knife and the level it off with the back of your knife, this will give you a perfect measurement. My wife makes the best pie crust ever, so she is helping me with this. Thanks honey!
This is a cool thing my wife has. I have no idea what you call it. It a tubular measuring devise that helps you get accurate measurements for solids like I am doing here for the Crisco. Guys never see stuff like this unless they get married ;-)
So what you do with this is slide the inside tube down far enough to where you have the exact measurement you need and then fill it up.
The cool thing about the measurement thingie is that it's transparent so you can see if you have air pockets. You want to press in the Crisco until there are no air pockets so you know it's completely full and the exact measurement your looking for. Then you push the inside tube up which forces the Crisco out of the tube and into the bowl Pretty neat!.
OK, here we have the flour and the carefully measured Crisco. Hopefully the flour was carefully measured as well..
Ice cold water in a measuring cup. Yep, pretty exciting! :-) You want to use ice cold water when you are making your pie crust because my wife said so.
Here you will see another neat tool. I'm pretty sure this is called a hand blender. It helps you cut the Crisco into the flour. This is handy for cookies as well when you need to cut butter into flour. But here we are just using Crisco.
You want to cut the Crisco into the flour like you are trying to chop it up into to small bits while mixing it with the flour.
.Chop, mix, chop. Keep going until you have mixed the Crisco into the flour.
Along the way you will have to use a knife to scrape off the Crisco from the hand blender. It will get completely full of Crisco, you want to scrape it off so you can keep mixing it with the flour.
Keep going until you have pea size Crisco balls mixed in with the flour.
Don't mix this too well. Just enough to where you have pea sized Crisco balls left over mixed in well with the flour like you see here.
Now you will need a good size cutting board or a clean counter. Lightly sprinkle some flour on the cutting board. You will also need a nice rolling pin. I like to use this marble one you see in the photo. We keep it in the fridge so it's nice and cold when we work with it. Normally it would have handles but somehow they broke off as time has gone by. Oh well, still a nice rolling pin:-)
Now you will start mixing in the ice cold water a little bit at a time. We are going to work on making pie crust dough now. OK, by the way... In the photo on the left there you will see another cool kitchen tool. It's a flour shaker. Very handle thing to have.
Here yo will work with the dough using your hands, mixing, adding a little ice cold water and mixing some more until you have a consistency that can be formed into a ball. You don't have to over mix this. You want to keep the dough light and fluffy, not overworked.
Here we have the pie crust dough ready to roll out. It's OK if it's a little crumbly. it will form together nicely when you roll it out.

Making Ricotta Cheese Pie like Grandma. Step by step photos Part 2
Making and forming the pie crust.

Note, you are not going to be working with this dough like you would a bread dough with kneading. You really don't want to overwork this wonderful pie crust dough. Here you will shape the dough into the shape of what you will be rolling it out to. In our case here we will be trying to roll out a large rectangle.
Now get you rolling pin and start rolling out the dough. Just a little at a time. Not too forceful.
Roll in every direction, slowly making your pie crust dough larger and larger.
It will start to get a little funky on the edges, like it's falling apart a little bit. It's OK. You will be able to work with this and form it as you need to. It will have the consistency of a light clay.
You can sprinkle a little bit of flour as you go as well if you need it. If you rolling pin is sticking tot he dough you should sprinkle just a little bit of flour on the dough and rub it across the dough with your hands. At this point you should be able to pick up the dough and flip it over so you can roll a little bit on the other side. When you have picked up the dough, sprinkle the cutting board with some flour. Then roll the other side of the dough some more working on making it larger.
So we are shooting for the pie crust to be large enough to overlap all sides of the pan you see here. This is a typical baking pan. Like one you would use to make lasagna. Well, OK. It IS the pan I use to make lasagna :-)
There we are working on making the pie crust even larger. Well, OK. I am watching my wife do this part. You can take small pieces of the dough and patch it here and there filling up holes so you can get your rectangular shape we need to overlap the pan..
To do the patching, you just have to wet your finger and wet the dough and then squeeze a dough piece on top of that to patch it all up. it work great. After patch it, you can roll it out some more.
.Now our crust is large enough to overlap all sides of the pan. Now what you will do is pick up pan, dough and cutting board as you see it here and flip the whole thing over.
Like this. Then gently take off the cutting board.
You should now have something that looks like this. The dough should be draping over the sides of the baking pan. At this point you don't just want to push the Doug down into the pan. You need to lift it up giving yourself some slack so you can press the dough down into the pan with out tearing it. Gently lift up the overlapping dough towards the center of the pan and then push down.
You should end up with something like this as you are getting the dough down into the pan. Take you time with this and treat your dough gently with respect. This is an amazing pie crust and you want it to look nice as well as taste nice.
Now work your way all around the pan so the pie crust is up against the size covering all of the pan bottom and sides. you may have to do some patching along the way and that OK.
When you have finished this part you should have something that looks like this here. Beautiful! it is now ready for the filling! Set this aside and start making your ricotta cheese pie filling.
Now you want to make the lemon zest. To do this you are going to have to use the smallest holes on your grater. You will have to work hard with this..
As you grate the lemon you just want to get off the yellow skin of the lemon not the white underneath. What's going to happen is a lot of the skin is going to get stuck on the outside of your grater that you are going to have to scrape off.

Making Ricotta Cheese Pie like Grandma. Step by step photos Part 3
Making the Ricotta Cheese Pie filling.

As you grate the lemon skin very little of it is actually going to fall on your plate below. You have to scrape it off the grater as you go. Here you can see the lemon skin stuck to the inside of the grater. Scrape it off onto a plate with a knife.
To get the lemon skin off the front, use a butter knife and scrape between the holes in both direction at an angle to loosen it up and the smack the side of the grater with a knife to get this stuff off the grater. This part is a bit of a pain, but this is yummy stuff and worth the effort!
Wheeew! OK, we did it! Here we have our naked lemon with the skin grated onto a plate ready to use for the filling.
Man! Just look at this stuff! Can you smell it? It's wonderful!.
Now we are getting somewhere! This is a good point to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. here we have the pie crust all ready to receive the Ricotta Pie filling and everything to make the filling.
Ricotta cheese... YUM! I highly recommend Sorrento "whole milk" ricotta cheese! It's the best!
Eggs! Use 8 of them... yeah, it's a lot of eggs, it's OK, this is desert :-)
Mix them up well like you are making scrambled eggs.
.Now ass in the yummy lemon zest!.
Then add in your sugar.
Mix.....
Mix some more. You will only be mixing by hand with a fork. Do not use an electric mixer. The Ricotta Cheese will break up too much if you do.
Now add in the Ricotta Cheese.
Mix some more with a fork.
You will want to mix vigorously until the filling is pretty smooth..
When you have finished mixing the filling should look like this here. Just about ready to go into the pan now.

Making Ricotta Cheese Pie like Grandma. Step by step photos Part 4
Making the Ricotta Cheese Pie filling and baking the pie!

Now you will need to chop up the Maraschino Cherries. Chop them up into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces. It's important that you dry these off after you have chopped them. Use a paper towel to remove the red juice from the cherries.
No add the cherries into the ricotta cheese pie filling and mix well.
Slowly pur the filling into the pie crust.
Keep moving the bowl around as you are pouring so you evenly fill up the pan.
We are almost there! When you have finished making the pie crust and the ricotta cheese pie filling and have filled up the pan your pan should look like this here. Looking good!
With a sharp knife, careful trim off all the extra overlapping crust so that the crust is trimmed of at the top of the pan edge.
Work with the dough tucking is under and pushing it down so the crust edge is down closer to the filling.
Here you can see what the crust looks like after we have worked with it pushing it down and shaping it so you have a nice crust edge that is pretty close to the filling. Like you see here.
.This is what is looks like after it has been baking for 30 minutes. Notice the small crack in the middle. That's OK. Cheesecakes crack a lot. I have a lot of tips about how to prevent the cracking on the main recipe page for this recipe.
Here is a picture from the top. Man! It smells great! I want to eat it NOW! But I can't, it has to cool! Darn!
Let this cool on the counter of table for about 1 hour. Place wax paper over the top so air can still get into the pan. Do not seal tight. After this has cooled at room temp. for 1 hour, place it in the refrigerator and let it chill overnight in the same manor, with the loose wax paper on top..
Here is the finished Ricotta Cheese Pie "just like grandma used to make" after it has chilled in the refrigerator. overnight. Notice the cracks got a little larger. You really don't want these cracks but they don't bother me at all. Still tastes fantastic!!! Again, I have a lot of tips on the cracking on the main Ricotta Cheese Pie recipe page. I'm going to work on getting this to come out with no cracks. One great tip was to fill a small pan of water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven prior to preheating to maintain moisture in the oven while cooking. Great tip!
So the consistency and taste of this Ricotta Cheese Pie is hard to describe. Quite unique and wonderful! A dense, moist yet light taste. Just plain delicious!
Here is a special corner piece from the pan. it's mine! I claim it because I cooked it! :-) YUM!!! This is actually very good with a glass of red wine! Wonderful! Getting hungry as I type!
After the pie is finished being chilled, I like to cut it up into small pieces and place on a platter..
YUM!

Please take me back to the Ricotta Cheese recipe.


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