Sense of Home
Homemade whole-milk ricotta is actually a cheese, not a true ricotta. Ricotta is produced from the whey left over when making cheese. You know the nursery rhyme; "little miss muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey". Little miss muffet was eating cheese curds and the protein rich by-product whey. Ricotta is produced by allowing whey to become more acidic and then heating it to near boiling, causing the remaining proteins in the whey to separate and form a fine curd. For this recipe, and for so many more that call for ricotta, homemade whole-milk ricotta is an excellent creamy, rich choice. If you have never made this cheese at home it is the simplest of cheeses to make and the results are well worth the short amount of time it takes.
Whole milk ricotta is simply made by pouring a half-gallon of organic whole milk into a cooking pot with 1/4 cup lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat the milk to 185 degrees F. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then line a colander with muslin, carefully ladle the curds and whey into the muslin bag, or cloth and let it drain for 30 minutes. You can let it drain longer if you want a crumbly cheese for topping salads, but for this recipe you want a creamy ricotta cheese so 30 minutes will do. This recipe makes just under 2 cups of ricotta so that is about right for this pie. Be sure to save the whey (shown in the quart jar above), this is full of protein and can be added to smoothies or any recipe that calls for water, such as when making bread. It will keep in the refrigerator about as long as milk will, I keep mine in the freezer if I don't plan to use it that week.
Home canned fruits are such a pleasure to look at in the jar. I have found that often, even if the peaches or cherries are not as sweet as I would like for eating fresh, they always taste good canned in a light syrup, and are excellent mixed in with a little plain yogurt. For this pie recipe I chose to use cherries and peaches since I have several jars left in the pantry.
This was one of the most frustrating crusts to work with, I actually added several teaspoons more water just to get the dough to form a ball and roll out halfway decent. In the end though this is a very good tasting crust, almost cookie like, so I am keeping it with the recipe, I will just add a note to add more water. Perhaps the amount of water was a misprint in the original recipe or perhaps the pastry chef is just so much better at making pastries that he/she doesn't need much liquid added.
Ricotta Fruit Pie
~adapted from an April 2009 Gourmet magazine recipe ~
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoon cold water, plus more added (by teaspoons) as needed
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cherries, cut in half (drained well if canned, or frozen)
3/4 cup peaches, cut into bite-size pieces (drained well if canned or frozen)
1 1/3 cups whole milk ricotta (11 ounces)
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2 large eggs (1 whole, 1 separated)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons instant polenta or yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the Dough
Beat butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Mix in egg yolk and water. With the mixer on low speed add flour and salt until a soft dough forms, carefully adding additional water as needed until it is just moist enough to form a loose ball. Divide dough into 2 balls and set aside. Chill dough while mixing filling.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. with rack in the middle of the oven.
For the Filling
Drain the fruit well if needed. Beat ricotta with an electric mixer until fluffy, then gradually add 1/2 cup sugar. Beat in 1 whole egg plus one yolk (reserving the white for brushing the top of the pie crust), then add vanilla. Beat in polenta, zest, and a pinch of salt, then beat in butter. Fold in the fruit.
Let dough soften slightly, place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out one ball of dough into a 12-inch round that will fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and roll out into the pie pan.
Roll out the second ball of dough as the first. Working quickly, or cover and chill the dough again before adding filling.
Pour the ricotta fruit mixture onto the crust in the pie pan. Place top crust on pie, pressing edges together around the pie. Make three long slits in the top crust, then brush top crust with egg white, and bake at 350 degrees F. until golden brown, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cool Completely.
Sense of Home / Recipes / Desserts
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