When I was growing up, it was a given that my Sicilian mom would make a big pan of lasagna for every major holiday whether it was Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Along with the lasagna, there would be other traditional food—turkey, ham, etc. My mom didn’t make desserts, though; and, once I was old enough, I took on the role of baking for the family.
Today, my Easter table wouldn’t be complete without that lasagna—and, depending on who is showing up, ham may or may not be on the menu. Now, for dessert, I go strictly Italian. No matter what else I make, there has to be a dessert which includes anise as an ingredient. This year, it will be ricotta pie, heavily flavored with the aromatic extract.
Over 40 years ago, a coworker brought me in a piece of this delicious ricotta pie that his Italian neighbor had made. Well, it was love at first bite. I had had other ricotta pies before, but this was different. It was the first ricotta pie I had tasted that didn’t include citrus or chocolate chips. It had me at anise. The other thing about it was the texture—the custard was nicely dense, so much so that I could pick up the piece and eat it without a fork. Yum!
It took a little bit of pleading to get the recipe as my coworker’s neighbor didn’t want to pass it along to just anyone in case they screwed it up, I guess. My friend assured her that I was an Italian who would do it justice.
It turns out that I didn’t find the pie difficult to make it all. In fact, it’s one of the easiest pies I make. The filling is very straightforward, and the dough is as easy as 1-2-3, easy to make and exceptionally easy to handle.
If you, too, enjoy all things anise, I’m sure you’d be happy to have this pie on your Easter dessert menu. Happy Easter!
One year ago: Homemade Taco Seasoning
Two years ago: Hot Cross Buns
Three years ago: Apple Butter Vinaigrette
Recipe makes two 9″ single-crust pies
Ingredients for Pie Crust
- 3 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup Crisco shortening
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. anise extract
- 1/4 cup milk (or more if dough is dry)
Ingredients for Pie Filling
- 2 lbs. ricotta
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 8 eggs
- 3 tsp. anise extract
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tbl. melted butter
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together with whisk in a large bowl. Cut Crisco shortening into flour mixture. In separate bowl, beat egg yolks and add extract and milk to yolks. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add more milk if needed. Divide dough in half and roll out into circles large enough for 9″ pie pans. Place dough in greased pie pans. Trim edges and flute or score with fork tines. Set aside while you make filling.
Add ricotta to large mixing bowl and beat to get any lumps out. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, flour and cinnamon together. Add to the ricotta.
Beat eggs slightly. Add the anise extract and milk. Add to cheese mixture. Add melted butter. Mix well. Add citron if using (I don’t). Pour filling into prepared pie crusts.
Bake at 400o F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375o F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes more. Test with knife as for custard. Cool on rack; then refrigerate. Just before serving, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
You may or may not be aware, but ricotta is sold in either a 15-oz. container or a 32 oz. container. Why the ricotta manufacturers don’t provide a 16-oz. container is beyond me. Although I have never made a single pie using 15 oz. of ricotta, I can’t imagine that the filling wouldn’t be OK made with one less ounce of ricotta. Other than that little blip, the recipe is easily halved to make a single ricotta pie.
Source: Recipe from an Italian neighbor of a former coworker