« Little Italy old-timers vs. hipster Milan | Main | Kloby's Smokehouse: worth the trip »

April 2, 2010

Mom's Italian ricotta cheese pie

Cheese pieWhen I was a kid, it wasn't Easter morning unless there was cheese pie for breakfast.

The traditional Sicilian dessert, made with a cookie-like crust and ricotta filling, is creamy and not too sweet, so it can pass for the most important meal of the day. At least on a holiday.

I'll do my best to give you the recipe. I'm hedging here because my mom has given me a recipe, but I'm not sure it's the recipe.

My mother learned how to make the pie from her mother-in-law, then had the nerve to improve on it. Years ago, I asked for the recipe. The pies I've made since have been good, but not nearly as good as mom's.

Could be my inferior baking skills. Could also be the fact that my mother bakes in triplicate and doesn't follow her own recipe. She usually makes three pies at a time, tripling the filling but only doubling the crust because she can stretch it to fit three pans. That leaves her with extra egg yolks that she tosses into the filling.

I suspect that mom is holding out, that there's a secret ingredient she's not giving up.

When you're ready, mom, I'm all ears.

There's an old saying in journalism: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

I did my best to find out on the phone this afternoon how many eggs my mother uses per pie. It took quite a bit of grilling -- mom's slipperier than an indicted mayor -- but I finally pinned her down to the version below, which has one less egg white in the filling than the last time she gave me the recipe.

Can't wait to check it out.

Italian Ricotta Cheese Pie


Mix in a bowl:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

Dash of allspice 

Cut in 1/2 cup butter.

Combine and mix into the above mixture: 

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla


1 pound ricotta cheese*

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of allspice

2 egg whites plus one whole egg

Roll out half of dough between waxed paper and place in an 8- or 9-inch pie pan. Pour in filling. Roll out top crust, place on top, trim and crimp edge. 

Brush top with egg yolk glaze (1 yolk slightly beaten with a fork with 1 teaspoon milk).

Bake at 350 until filling is set and crust is nicely browned. (About 45 minutes.)

*A couple years ago, I tried using fancy fresh ricotta. Don't. It makes the pie soupy. You probably could drain fresh ricotta until it is as dry as the ordinary supermarket ricotta, but the supermarket stuff works just fine in this pie. At least when mom's making it.


Photo by math-hubby

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 4:52 PM | | Comments (5)


Since leaving home decades ago Easter has not been as big a gastronomic feast as it was when I was little. My mom made less quantity than at Christmas, but the variety was greater.
Ironically, this Christmas we made pizza rustica-Neapolitan style this year. I pulled out her recipe for pizza dolce. The directions are skimpy at best. Like your's she has this bizarre whole eggs+yolks variation. Hers called for 3# of ricotta. Needless to say, I'd have the pie sitting around for a couple of weeks so I am going t downsize it. (I bought a more manageable Pyrex pie plate.)

Shortly after Christmas, I read the Louise Schenone's "autobiography",Lost ravioli recipes of Hoboken. I am sure you would enjoy it.

Yum! Tell Mom we all said thank you for sharing.

add pinch of cayenne

Good Friday Spam at 8:12!

I made this tonight and it is delicious! Don't tell mom but I used a frozen pie crust and did not put a top on it. This pie is amazing!!

So glad you liked it! LV

Post a comment

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine?'s Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected