Inspired by La Pastiera, a traditional Easter dessert from Napoli, this ricotta tart is lusciously soft and gently perfumed with Italian candied cedro, figs, mandarin and pear, which can be found at specialty Italian delis. If short on time, a good quality store-bought shortcrust pastry can be used here instead. Buy the best quality ricotta you can afford and you will be rewarded with a pillowy and creamy filling. The filling can be varied depending on what you have at hand – sultanas, rum and cinnamon could all be used.
400g 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
60g caster sugar
200g cold unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tbsp iced water
800g full-fat ricotta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g caster sugar
60ml pure cream
2-3 tbsp Italian candied fruit, finely chopped, plus
extra to serve
Zest of one orange
1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp marsala
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g 70% chocolate, finely chopped
To make the pastry, tip the flour onto a clean work surface and combine with the baking powder, sea salt and sugar. Add the butter and lemon zest and toss through the flour. Using a metal pastry scraper or a knife, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. There should be larger pieces of butter too, so don’t overwork it at this stage. Pour the egg onto the mixture and incorporate into the dough using the pastry scraper or knife. Once all the egg has been gently mixed in, begin to sprinkle with iced water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just comes together, using your hands or a pastry scraper to bring it all together to form the pastry. Shape the pastry into a flattish disc, cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Meanwhile, make the filling by combining all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, mixing until smooth. Set aside.
Remove the pastry from the fridge. Take 3/4 of the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface until 3mm in thickness. Drape the pastry into a 24cm springform cake tin, allowing plenty of pastry to hang over the edges. Roll out the remaining dough to the same thickness and using a pastry cutter or knife, cut strips of pastry approximately 1cm wide. Set aside.
Fill the base with the ricotta filling, smoothing the top to create an even surface. Create a lattice pattern with the previously cut strips of pastry. Trim excess overhanging pastry, leaving a 2cm border and fold into the tart, pinching to secure.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until just set. Allow to cool then set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Remove from the cake tin and transfer to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar and top with extra candied fruits and pistachios.
Recipe kindly supplied by Julia Busuttil Nishimura