Earlier this month, we met up with chef Emiko Davies to try her recipe for pear and ricotta ravioloni. This time, she’s cooking some classic Roman comfort food: crostata di ricotta e visciole, a pie filled with ricotta and a sour cherry jam.
As much a part of Roman culinary lore as apple pie or cheesecake in the US, crostata di ricotta e visciole has its origins in the cuisine of Rome’s ancient Jewish community, and you can still find the best in the restaurants and cafés in the old Jewish quarter today. If you’re in Rome and keen to try your hand at the recipe, you can pick up some of the finest sour cherries at the Campo de’ Fiori market in Rome’s centre.
Ingredients (serves 8)
For the pastry crust:
- 2 cups (250 grams) of flour
- ½ cup (100 grams) of fine sugar
- 150 grams of halved and pitted fresh cherries
- 1 stick (½ cup or 125 grams) of cold butter, diced
- 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
For the filling:
- 9 ounces (250 grams) sour cherry jam
- 1 pound (500 grams) firm ricotta (preferably sheep’s milk)
- 1 whole egg plus 2 yolks
- ½ cup (100 grams) fine sugar
For the pastry crust, combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mixture appears crumbly (alternatively, pulse together in a food processor). Add the lemon zest, the egg and yolk and combine until the pastry just comes together into a smooth ball. Rest the pastry in the fridge for 30 minutes or overnight. If you find that your dough is a little dry or crumbly, you can always add a splash of water or – if it’s very dry – an extra egg white.
In the meantime, prepare the ricotta filling by beating the ricotta, eggs and sugar until smooth and creamy.
When the dough has rested, take about two-thirds of the dough and, on a floured surface, roll this to about 1/8 inch thickness to cover a 26cm or 10 inch pie dish. Trim the edges.
Spread the jam over the pastry dough and scatter the cherries over. Pour the ricotta mixture over this and smooth out the surface.
With the remaining third of the pastry dough, roll on a well floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into strips about ½ inch wide, if you want a lattice top. Layer the strips in a criss-cross pattern over the top and secure the ends on the edges of the pastry with a dab of water or the leftover egg white.
Bake the crostata at 350ºF/170C for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden and the centre of the crostata feels springy.
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