Mom's Italian ricotta cheese pie
When 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