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Ricotta Cake

(italian cooking forever)

"Let's skip the news boy / I'll make some tea"
(Genesis 9, 6)

Scusa, preferirei leggere il testo in Italiano text.


The Ricotta is a typical italian sweet cheese ("cottage cheese", says my dictionary) largely used in diets due to its nearly total absence of any nutritive principle. It looks like very dense milk cream, or very soft butter. It's snow-white and almost flavourless. The best Ricotta is the fresh one, only days old.

If you can't find the Ricotta in your country: 1) you're unlucky because you live outside Italy and 2) you've got a problem with this cake. Try to replace it with another similar cheese (the less tasty, the better). If really desperate try the Kraft Philadelphia, double the sugar quota and don't blame me for the results.

Ingredients (for a 20-25 cm / 8"-10" diameter, 3 cm / 1"-1 1/2" high cake, 6-10 portions):

For the pastry (in italian, more correctly, Pasta Frolla)
- Flour: 400g (or 14oz according to some weird people)
- Sugar: 100g (3 1/2 oz)
(note: reducing the sugar will simplify the hand-working, to the detriment of sweetness).
- Butter: 125 g (4 1/2 oz) at fridge temperature
- Eggs: 2
- Baking Powder: a little (or none at all, if you prefer a crunchy crust)

For the filling
- Ricotta: 500g (18 oz)
- Sugar: 100g (3 1/2 oz)
- Eggs: 3
- Plus: (at will): Vanilla, Cinnamon, Lemon juice.

And some powdered sugar.

Required Time: 90 minutes plus cooking.

Difficulty: I can do it. Do you?

  1. First of all the pastry. Mix in a bowl Flour, Sugar, and Baking Powder.
  2. Cut in li-i-i-i-i-ttle pieces the fridge-cold butter and put them in the bowl.
  3. Break the eggs in the bowl.
  4. Mix the above composition (initially with a spoon, then with the hands). You have to ENERGICALLY press the pastry to amalgamate the ingredients. As said above, the work is simpler if you have reduced the sugar. Add A VERY LITTLE water, only if unable to comply. After 20-30 minutes of strenuous work you will have obtained a homogeneous ball, with the consistence of morbid clay.
  5. Wrap up the ball in aluminium-paper (unsure of the way you call it, in Italy it's called Domopak) and forget it in a fresh and dry place.
  6. Now the filling. Put the Ricotta in another bowl and squeeze (work) it with your hands or a spoon until the consistency is like cream.
  7. Add the eggs' yolks, sparing the albumens. Mix.
  8. Add the sugar. Mix a little more.
  9. In another bowl whip to a froth (see endnote) the albumens (sparing 1 tablespoon) and tenderly mix it with the cream.
  10. Add, at will, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Lemon juice. The flavour shouldn't be too intense.
  11. This is the creative moment, when you can mix in any other ingredient you think of (usually I add some assorted alcoholic beverages). As a rule of thumb, taste the cream until it's OK. Eroically rexist the urge of tasting too much. Note: altering the colour of the cream will enhance the visual effect of the cake (as long as you avoid mildew-green tones).
  12. Find the lost pastry ball, who should have turned an unpleasant dark yellow. No problem. Cut it into 2 pieces, about 2/3 and 1/3. Widen the larger piece with a rolling-pin.
  13. By now you have probably discovered that to widen the Pasta Frolla is a difficult proposition! Manage in some way to obtain a wide disk and coat the bottom and the side of a pie-pan (butter-spread beforehand!! or covered with oven-paper) with a uniform pastry layer, without leaving any hole. The edge of the pastry should be a little higher than the side of the pan.
  14. Spill the cream in the center of the cake. Fold pastry edges inward over the cream.
  15. According to the theory, now you have to widen the other third of pasta in a nicely rounded disk and ermetically close the cake from above. Try it and good luck!! Put caution not to press the cream or it will squirt out.
  16. Mix the albumen tablespoon you have spared with some water and brush the cake top.
  17. Put into the oven (previously heated to 200 Celsius degrees, or to an unknown number of Farenheit degrees). After 5-10 minutes, when the top crust starts to look rigid, drill some holes through it with a knife (so the cake will not swell up). Closely watch the cooking, drilling a hole everywhere you see a bulge.
  18. While you're watching the cooking, you might spend the time cleaning the cream bowl, best made by means of fingers and tongue. Don't quarrel over such privilege. (Note: depending on the taste of the ersatz-Ricotta cheese used, you might end putting it into the dish-washer instead. This is a bad omen, but it's not my fault).
  19. When the top crust is gold-yellow (20-30 minutes) the cake is cooked. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Eat only when it has cooled.
  20. That's all. Buon Appetito, unlucky not-Italian friends.
End Note: I'm unsure if "to whip to a froth" is the correct english translation for such action. My dictionary says so, and calls "whisk" the related kitchen-tool. Anyway, at the end of such action the albumens should look as a soft foam cloud.


In Italy a popular hearsay claims that women won't succed in whipping to a froth an albumen, regardless of effort and goodwill, on a certain day every 28. This is also true for the preparation of Mayonnaise sauce. Now you have been warned.