A creamy ricotta filling with a hint of lemon and almond is baked inside of a sweet Italian pie pastry. Typically served on Easter, but not exclusively, this Ricotta Pie is the star of the show at any meal. The ricotta typically needs to be strained, so prepare ahead of time since this process takes at least 8 hours in the refrigerator or overnight. Please also note this pie requires a 9″ deep-dish pie pan.
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 32 ounces (905 grams) whole-milk ricotta, strained if very watery (see notes)
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- Egg wash, for assembling
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF
- Add the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until well combined.
- Add in the butter and pulse 5-7 times, or until the butter is broken down into tiny pebbles.
- With the motor running, add in the eggs and let the dough process until it forms together into a cohesive ball around the blade, about 1 minute.
- Transfer the dough to a work surface dusted with flour. Divide the dough in half.
- Roll out half of the dough to a rough 11″ circle and place inside of a 9″ deep-dish pie plate, tucking the ends of the pastry underneath themselves to form an edge. Pierce the bottom of the pastry multiple times with a fork to allow the steam to escape when baking. Place the pastry in the freezer to chill while the oven preheats, or at least 10 minutes.
- Roll out the other half of the dough to a rough 10-inch circle. Place the pie dough on a flat surface (such as a sheet pan) that can fit in your refrigerator. Cover, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
- Remove the bottom crust from the freezer and line the pastry with a round piece of parchment paper and then add pie weights to fill (or dry rice or beans or lentils), making sure to push pie weights up against the edges. Bake for 20 minutes on the lower rack, then remove from the oven and remove the parchment and pie weights. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: Add the (strained) ricotta to a large bowl. Whip it with a whisk for 30 seconds until lightened. Add the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and almond extract and whisk together until well combined.
- Transfer the filling to the slightly cooled pie shell.
- Whisk together an egg with a bit of water to make an egg wash.
- Remove the rolled-out top crust from the refrigerator. Score the top crust with the fork in a lattice pattern by evenly pressing and dragging the fork on the pastry. You want to get a good score on it, but make sure not to cut through the pastry.
- Brush the egg wash on the top crust as well as on the edges of the baked bottom pie crust (this will help the top crust seal to the edges). Transfer the top crust pastry on top of the ricotta filling. Seal the top crust into the edges, and cut off any excess dough.
- Bake the pie on a rimmed baking sheet in the middle part of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is golden and shiny and the filling has just nearly puffed up throughout, leaving just a small portion in the middle that has not risen.
- Let cool for at last 2 hours. Serve at room temperature or cold.
This pie requires a 9″ deep-dish pie plate. I used this metal deep-dish pie plate (affiliate link) because I like the conduction of heat to ensure a crisp crust for this pie. If you do not have a 9″ deep-dish pie plate, you will not be able to use all of the filling. Set the filling aside and you can even bake it in a ramekin to have a ricotta custard. Just make sure not to try to use up all the filling in a regular-sized pie plate because the pie could overflow. Alternatively a 9.5 or 10″ pie plate will also work.
The filling for this pie can also be made with an electric mixer if you don’t want to do it by hand.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your ricotta needs to be strained if you’ve never baked with it before. A good rule of thumb is that unless you are buying a local or higher-end brand you likely should strain it. I like Calabro brand, and find that it does not need to be strained. If you aren’t sure, you can go ahead and strain it anyways. To strain ricotta, place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Line the fine mesh strainer with two layers of cheesecloth. An alternative to this is to use a nut milk bag if you have one of those. Place the ricotta in the cheesecloth and smooth the ricotta over to get a flat surface. Transfer the ricotta to the refrigerator to strain for about 8 hours or overnight. Discard any liquid left at the bottom of the bowl. Then the ricotta is ready to use.
My Italian great-grandmother whipped her ricotta like it was heavy cream before she made this recipe. This results in a smoother final texture of the pie. I prefer the more natural feeling of the ricotta in this pie, so I don’t call for it in this recipe, and instead just whisk the ricotta together briefly before adding in the remaining ingredients. But if you’d like a smoother final texture, whip the ricotta until it has reached a consistency of thickened heavy cream before moving on to adding in the additional ingredients. I found using an electric mixer makes quick work of this.
Keywords: Ricotta Pie