Beth, here is a nice seasonal recipe for another typical, delicious Italian cake teeming with ricotta "Pastiera Napolitana". We make this for Easter every year, we just made a big batch last Sunday.
The only concern is that whether cooked wheat grain, one of its essential ingredients, is available outside Italy. We use the precooked "grano" that comes in a jar, produced especially for making this cake, but if such a thing doesn't exist abroad, the closest option I can think of is to precook ebly
. Or if this is not found in your neighbourhood either, I believe rice or oatmeal can be used, it will not be exactly the same but would be equally delicious.
(this makes a very large pie or 2 of them, as we usually make a big batch when we do this. You can halve the amount of ingredients for a smaller portion.)
700g/1lb 9oz of softly cooked wheat grain.
300ml/10,5oz of whole milk
50g/1,8oz of lard or butter
1100g/2,4lb or ricotta (again, preferably of sheep milk)
960g/2lb+ of sugar
8 eggs + 3 yolk
a few drops of vanilla
a few drops of orange flower water
1 large lemon, grate the zest, and the juice
50g/1,8oz of candied citrus (or orange), finely chopped
320g/11oz lard or butter (lard is strongly recommended however)
In a large pot or skillet, heat the grain with milk and lard/butter. Cook, stirring often, for about 10minutes until it attains a creamy texture.
In a large bowl whip together the ricotta, sugar, eggs and yolks, vanilla and orange flower water.
Add the cooked grain/milk mixture to the ricotta mixture, lemon zest & juice and candied citrus, combine them well until smooth.
for the crust, combine all the ingredients well, knead it to form a smooth dough. Press the dough evenly onto a buttered form dusted with bread crumbs (alternatively you can line the form with a baking paper), the dough should be about 5mm thickness. You can use one large form or 2 smaller ones.
With the extra dough you can make thin strips and make a decorative cris-cross on the surface of the cake. (classic design, however somehow we never have enough leftover for this...)
Bake in the oven at 170°C/325°C for about 45minutes (if it is very large up to 1 hour), or until the surface is golden brown.
Let it cool completely, dust the surface generously with powdered sugar.
Pastiera keeps in the fridge for about a week.