This easy Sicilian Ricotta pie with a hint of lemon is one of the creamiest, most delicious Pie you will ever make! Classic Italian Ricotta Pie is traditionally associated with Easter, but it might just be your favourite Pie all your around! Wonderful shortcrust pie dough (Pasta Frolla) filled with creamy ricotta flavoured with lemon zest makes this Pie wonderfully silky, creamy custard like, also well balanced in sweetness. Making Ricotta Pie is very easy and quick, you have to try it!
Why this is the Best Ricotta Pie?
- Perfect creamy texture – This Ricotta Pie has the most perfect custard like creamy texture without being grainy. The secret behind the texture is 1. draining the ricotta 2. using the yolk part of the egg only 3. there is also a small amount of cream and starch in the recipe that encourage the right texture development
- Most amazing buttery crust – I think we can all agree that there is nothing worse than soggy Pie! I have tons of Pro tips for you in this recipe about how to achieve the best ever Pie crust texture. No more soggy Pie!
- Intense and natural custard ricotta lemon taste – The combination of ricotta and lemon along with the buttery pie crust will blow your mind! The Pie is traditionally made for Easter but it would be a real disappointment to wait another year, I am totally doing this Pie all year around! Try using the the best quality ingredients, it will make a huge difference
- Quick & easy to make – Last but not least, making the Pie crust and the Ricotta filling both super quick and easy, literally most part of the recipe is just waiting eg. resting the dough, pre-baking the dough etc. Even if you are beginner in the kitchen, you can comfortable try this Ricotta Pie recipe
What is ricotta?
Ricotta is an Italian creamy cheese, with a very mildly sweet, creamy, milky flavour profile that can be used to make sweet or savoury meals or desserts. Like mascarpone, ricotta is used in many Italian desserts, such as cheesecakes, cannoli and of course, Ricotta Pie.
In the United States, American ricotta is almost always made of cow's milk whey, as opposed to Italian ricotta which is typically made from the whey of sheep, cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo milk. While both types are low in fat and sodium, the Italian version is naturally sweet, while the American is a little saltier and more moist.
While making this Ricotta Pie you should aim to use good quality, creamy (so that does not have small grains)Italian ricotta with high fat content. In case the Ricotta is a bit more on the watery side, make sure that you drain it before using it so your Ricotta Pie won´t turn out watery or grainy.
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking this Ricotta Pie
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, using ingredients not on the right temperature etc. will all have an impact on your baking. Make sure you follow the recipe to avoid disappointment
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex pastries
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking Ricotta Pie
Some important notes regarding the INGREDIENTS of the Ricotta Pie
For the pie crust (Pasta Frolla)
- Flour: I am using pastry flour for this Pie recipe, feel free to use AP if can’t find pastry flour in your local supermarket. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Baking powder: There is a small amount of baking powder in the recipe just to make the crust puff up a tiny bit
- Sugar: This shortcrust is made with a small amount of icing sugar that makes the pie dough sweet but not overly sweet. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most of the dessert recipes. Balances flavour and enhances other ingredients. This is a sweet tart dough and I just love that extra very mild salty kick at the end
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. While in most of the recipes butter needs to be on room temperature, this is an exception and you have to take it very seriously. Butter needs to be chilled, which means take the butter out of the fridge, cut into cubes then place it into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before using it.
- Egg: Room temperature as always. Egg can´t be left out or replaced unless you have the knowledge to totally reformulate the recipe
- Lemon zest: Citrus zest makes the Pie dough super fragrant, don´t skip this ingredient
As you can see the Pasta Frolla recipe is super simple in terms of the ingredients. The secret behind making beautiful and delicious Pie crust is all about mastering the technique and understanding how temperature plays in role while working with the Pie dough. Keep on reading!
For the Ricotta filling
- Ricotta: Try to purchase high quality Italian ricotta that is creamy and not too watery, if if watery make sure you drain it before using it
- Egg: For the creamiest result we will only use egg yolk, room temp as always. Try my macaron recipe perhaps with the leftover egg whites. Egg can´t be left out or replaced unless you have the knowledge to totally reformulate the recipe
- Sugar: There is a small amount of sugar in the Ricotta filling. Classic Ricotta Pie should not be super sweet, so if you like very sweet desserts, you might want to increase the sugar quantity
- Corn starch: Use corn starch as a thickening agent, just a small amount
- Heavy cream: Gives extra creaminess for the filling. Also known as whipping cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40%, in my recipes I use 36% . Avoid substitutes like vegetable based “whipping cream”
- Lemon zest: Using citrus zest is one of the most under rated ingredients in baking. This Ricotta pie will have a deep, natural lemony flavour due to the zest added both into the filling and also on top of the Pie as a decoration element. If for some reason you don´t like lemon, you can use orange zest too
For the Whipped mascarpone frosting (Optional Decoration element)
- Mascarpone: Very rich Italian cream cheese, exceptionally smooth and easily to spread or whip. The flavor is milky and slightly sweet
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40% , the one I am using is 36%. Use it very cold and do not substitute with vegetable based “whipping cream”. While whipping cream you have to start on low speed then gradually increase. Very easy to over whip so stop beating when frosting reaches a pipeable consistency
- Icing sugar: Icing sugar is the first choice when it comes to whipping up frosting. Question I often get is whether the quantity is a typo. NO, it´s not! You do not actually need a lot of sugar when making cupcake frosting! It stays beautifully fluffy without tons on sugar, the secret is the technique of whipping, not the amount of sugar
- Lemon zest: again we will be using lemon zest to flavour this whipped mascarpone frosting
My top Baking 8 tips regarding the TECHNIQUE of making the Ricotta Pie
1. The importance of temperature while making Pie crust
When I started experimenting with baking, I had several disastrous attempts making Pies. Now I understand that the one and only reason I failed was me being inpatient and forcing the dough even when its temperature was inappropriate.
Baking is science and in general temperature is one of the most important factors to understand AND utilise for our benefit. When I say temperature I don’t purely mean baking temperature but also the environment we work e.g kitchen temperature as well as the dough temperature.
While making this Pie crust, temperature is everything! If the dough is too hot, it’s sticky and can’t be rolled out or shaped. If too cold, it will easily break. The entire Pie making process is a balancing exercise between keeping the dough cold enough but not too cold.
2. Process of making Pie crust (Pasta Frolla)
Making Pasta Frolla in fact super quick, all you need to pay attention is temperature as explained above.
- Make sure all ingredients are measured with Digital scale and prepare all the tools ahead: Rolling pin, Silicone baking mat
- Place the measured butter chunks into the freezer for 5-10 minutes
- Sift together dry ingredients; flour, icing sugar, baking powder, salt, mix so they are combined properly
- Add very cold butter chunks to dry ingredients and rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand like consistency. This will take about 3 minutes, make sure you do not spend too much time with this step as butter can easily warm up and that is something we want to avoid
- Add egg into the mixture and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together. First it might look crumbly but do not add more wet or dry ingredients to the recipe instead gently knead the dough with the palm of your hand for a minute or two (do not over knead and do not use mixer) just until the dough becomes smooth
- If the dough is too warm and sticky, place it into the fridge for 10-15 minutes first. Otherwise continue with rolling the dough out between two Silicone baking mat to about 27cm / 10-11inch. Now if you do not own this wonderful, inexpensive baking equipment, you will need some flour to roll the dough to avoid sticking it to the kitchen counter
- Place the dough into the freezer for 10-15 min in between the two Silicone baking mat. Do not remove the mat at this point as the dough might stick to the mat while it is warm and it would break the dough
You will be pleased to know that unlike other recipes state, no food processor is needed to make the pie dough. In fact, I make all my tart and pie recipes with the same process. The key is the technique - mainly keeping the dough cold - no need for fancy, expensive tool like food processor.
3. How to prepare the Ricotta filling
This Ricotta filling has the most amazing custard like texture, no surprise since we are using the same ingredients as for a custard Pie; egg yolk, cream etc.
- As mentioned above, if your ricotta is rather wet, make sure you drain it first
- Whip room temp ricotta with the help of an electric hand mixer for 1-2 minutes
- Add sugar and whip for a further minute
- Add corn starch and whip until combined
- Add room temp eggs one by one while continue whipping
- Finally whip in room temp cream
After the process you should get a creamy, lightly whipped Ricotta filling. Last, but not least, fold in lemon zest.
4. What is blind baking
Baking blind is the process of baking a pie or tart crust without the filling. It’s done by lining the Pie tin with parchment paper and filling with eg. baking bean. Blind baking is the most important step to avoid soggy bottom on your Pie, every bakers´biggest nightmare! Yet, so many recipes fail to explain the basic rule of how to avoid soggy bottom.
So the crust needs to be fully pre-baked (blind baking) before pouring the ricotta filling in. Do not trust recipes that state to pre-bake pie crust for 10-15 minutes only. You will need to bake the pie crust all the way until it reaches a beautiful golden colour and the bottom as well as the side fully baked, as the crust won’t bake further after filling is in.
5. How to bake the Ricotta Pie
As partly explained above, baking this Italian Ricotta pie is a step by step process that is worth following to avoid disappointment.
- After dough chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes, remove Silicone baking mat
- Trim the rolled out dough into 27 cm / 10-11 inch in diameter then carefully place the dough into a Pie dish 9 inch / 23 cm
- Fold the extra dough under the crust then flute with your fingers
- Chill pie dough again in the freezer for 30minutes
- Pre-heat oven to 170 C / 338 F
- After 30 minutes, line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (rice can work completely fine too)
- Blind bake pie crust for 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes, remove pie weight, continue baking the Pie crust for another 20 minutes or until crust is well baked, golden brown both on the bottom and side as well
- Let the crust rest for 15 minutes on room temp. Do not pour Ricotta filling in while crust is very hot.
- Make sure only pour Ricotta filling in, if the crust is properly baked
- Once Ricotta filling in, cover the edge of the pie crust all around with aluminium foil, so it won´t be browning too much
- Bake the Ricotta Pie for 45 minutes
How do I know when Ricotta Pie is ready baked? At the end of the baking time the edge of the crust should be beautiful golden brown, the side of the filling should be set and the middle of the filling might be still a bit wobbly. Do not over bake your Pie as it can cause the filling to dry out and start developing cracks on top. Also too high oven temp can cause the same.
Let the Ricotta pie cool on room temperature for at least 3 hours. The pie will further set as it cools (it will also slightly shrink and that is normal), so make sure you do not attempt to serve or cut the pie straight after baking.
6. How to make the Whipped mascarpone frosting decoration
Classic Italian Ricotta Pie has either a lattice or a full layer of pie crust top. I recommend something different, that I think it really takes the Pie to the next level and fits super well with the overall taste profile.
Whipped mascarpone frosting is super simple, it consist of heavy cream, mascarpone and a small amount of icing sugar whipped until fluffy, pipeable consistency. It is creamy, milky, a super stable frosting and way more delicious and less sweet than butter cream!
Using the right ingredients on the right temperature is extremely important while making whipped cream cupcake frosting.
1. for the mascarpone, use the full fat version (41%+) 2. heave creamy needs to be very cold (pop it into the freezer for a few minutes before using it) and again, full fat version so anywhere between 36-40% 3. icing sugar has to be sifted to avoid lumps 4. do not over whip the mixture
Basically you will have to whip the mixture with an electric hand mixer for a minute or two until it reaches a creamy, fluffy consistency then stop. It won´t get more stiff after this point, in fact if you over beat it, it will get only runnier then it will break. I don´t use my standmixer to whip this frosting since it is really easy to over whip it.
Once you are happy with the consistency of your frosting, move frosting into a piping bag fitted with your favourite nozzle tip, the one I am using is Wilton 1M piping nozzle tip to decorate this lovely Sicilian Ricotta Pie.
7. How to decorate the Ricotta Pie
Decoration is totally optional but seriously, how pretty it is?!
Let Ricotta Pie cool to room temp, then prepare the whipped mascarpone.
Dust the edge of the Ricotta Pie with icing sugar all round
Move whipped mascarpone into a piping bag fitted with French star nozzle tip and pipe decoration around
Finally, decorate with more lemon zest
Voila, your wonderful Italian Ricotta Pie is ready!
8. What equipment is needed to make Sicilian Ricotta Pie
Pie is one of those technical bakes that do not require any special equipment, you will only need your hands and understanding the temperature and temperament of the pie dough. Rolling pin is handy and a Pie dish but that’s it.
I recommend to use a 20-23 cm pie dish, this recipe is made in a 9 inch/ 23cm Pie dish. Anything bigger can cause significantly longer baking time, anything smaller can be maybe a bit too tiny to slice. Regarding material of the tin, many favour one or the other, however I truly believe that once you master the technique, the material, whether it is glass or ceramic or something else does not matter too much. My pie dish is a rather affordable and old fashioned enamel (this one) and it works perfectly fine.
Silicone baking mat is one of those inexpensive baking hacks I wish everyone knew about. It is the perfect baking equipment to roll pie dough, babka dough or any other sticky dough without using extra flour. I really recommend to invest into this wonderful equipment
You will be pleased to know that unlike other recipes state, no food processor is needed to make Ricotta pie, in fact I make all my Pies with my hands only!
How to store this Ricotta Pie
Once you decorated the Pie, it should be served or stored in the fridge. I suggest you cover the Pie to make sure it does not absorb any smell from the fridge.
Leftover Pie – if there is any – should be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days in air tight container.
How to freeze this Ricotta Pie
I do not recommend to freeze this Pie as it might impcat the texture of the pie crust as well as the filling.
What to serve this Ricotta Pie with
This Pie is extremely delicious on its own, there is no need to serve it with anything. The flavours and textures will leave a wonderful experience, however if you want, you can serve it perhaps with lemon ice cream.
Some other Pie recipe ideas for your to try
Baileys Apple Pie - This Fall edition Baileys Apple Pie recipe is the Ultimate homemade Apple Pie with an Irish cream twist, you will love it! This flaky, buttery pie crust is filled with a super delicious homemade Apple pie filling infused with Baileys, because why not?! Recipe in here
Pumpkin Pie – The BEST Pumpkin Pie recipe features a flaky, buttery pie crust that is filled with silky, creamy, incredible delicious pumpkin custard flavoured with aromatic orange zest and nutmeg. It’s rich, smooth, full of fall flavours everyone loves! Recipe in here
Blueberry galette – Galettes are the easiest type of Pies ever! Blueberries are my fav fruit using in Pies and this easy Blueberry galette recipe is the perfect quick and easy dessert when you fancy a Pie without all the fuss! Recipe in here
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Pie crust (Pastra Frolla)
- 500 g Ricotta creamy ricotta. drain if watery
- 85 g Granulated sugar
- 3 Egg yolk
- 100 g Heavy Cream 36% fat content
- 10 g Corn starch
- 2 lemon zest zest of 2 lemons
- 100 g mascarpone high fat content
- 50 g Heavy Cream 36% fat content
- 20 g Icing sugar
- 1 lemon zest zest of 1 lemon
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- If your ricotta is rather wet, make sure you drain it first then whip room temp ricotta with the help of an Electric hand mixer for 1-2 minutes.
- Add sugar and whip for a further minute, then add corn starch and whip until combined.
- Add room temp egg yolks one by one while continue whipping, then whip in room temp cream
- Finally, fold in lemon zest and set the mixture aside
- Sift together dry ingredients; flour, icing sugar, baking powder, salt
- Add very cold butter cubes and rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand like consistency
- Add egg into the mixture and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together
- Knead with the palm of your hand for a minute or two (do not over knead and do not use mixer) just until the dough becomes smooth
- If the dough is too warm and sticky, place it into the fridge for 10-15 minutes first. Otherwise continue with rolling the dough between two Silicone baking mat.
- Place the dough into the freezer for 15 min in between the two Silicone baking mat.. Do not remove the mat at this point
- After dough chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes, remove Silicone baking mat
- Trim the rolled out dough into 27 cm / 10-11 inch in diameter then carefully place the dough into a Pie dish 9 inch / 23 cm
- Fold the extra dough under the crust then flute with your fingers. Chill pie dough again in the freezer for 30minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 170 C / 338 F.
- After 30 minutes, line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (rice can work completely fine too). Blind bake pie crust for 20 minutes
- Remove pie weight, continue baking the Pie crust for another 20 minutes or until crust is well baked, golden brown both on the bottom and side as well. Let the crust rest for 15 minutes on room temp.
- Do not pour Ricotta filling in while crust is very hot & make sure only pour Ricotta filling in, if the crust is properly baked
- Once Ricotta filling in, cover the edge of the pie crust all around with aluminium foil, so it won´t be browning too much.
- Bake the Pie for about further 45 min. The side of the filling should be set and the middle of the filling might be still a bit wobbly, while the crust should be golden brown. Focus on the these, not the time itself
- Do not over bake your Pie as it can cause the filling to dry out and start developing cracks on top. Also too high oven temp can cause the same.
- Let the Pie rest for 3 hours on room temp
- Whip mascarpone, very cold heavy cream and icing sugar with an Electric hand mixer. until smooth and fluffy, about one or two minutes. Once it has reached the right consistency, do not over beat as it can become runny
- Move whipped mascarpone into a piping bag fitted with your favourite nozzle tip and apply decoration all around the Pie then dust with more lemon zest
- Serve immediately or store the Pie in fridge for 2-3 days