Italian ricotta cheese is less runny than what we have in America. In order to duplicate the Italian texture we blended farmer's cheese with ricotta cheese. To help set the cake, we also added a couple of tablespoonfuls of flour and an egg. I like the tang of the dried cherries, but the cake works as well with dried cranberries or golden raisins.
To make the Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon or more ice water
For the Filling:
1 carton (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
1 package (7.5 ounces) farmer cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Romana Sambuca Liqueur
1/2 cup pine nuts, preferably toasted (see Note)
1/4 cup finely diced candied orange peel or other dried fruit
1 cup dried cherries, cranberries or golden raisins
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
2 tablespoons Confectioners' sugar for garnish
You'll need a round cake pan, preferably with a loose bottom, 9 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches deep.
TO MAKE THE DOUGH: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and process until blended. Add the butter and process until broken into the flour. Add the eggs and ice water to the flour and process, by pulsing several times, until the dough comes together. If the dough seems dry, add another teaspoon or so of ice water. Turn the dough onto a board and gather it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly, wrap it in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Flour a pastry board and rolling pin. Remove 2/3's of the dough and roll it into a circle about 1/4-inch thick and 11 inches in diameter. Line the cake pan with the dough, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If it breaks apart, don't worry, just press it back into shape. Roll the remaining 1/3 of dough into a circle about 3/8 -inch thick and 10 inches in diameter. Divide this circle into 10 strips, each about 1/2-inch wide; this will be for the lattice top.
FOR THE FILLING: In a food processor, combine the ricotta and farmer's cheese, sugar, flour, egg and Sambuca and process until smooth. Transfer the filling to a mixing bowl and fold in the pine nuts, candied orange peel and cherries, or golden raisins and transfer this to the dough-lined cake pan.
Lay 5 strips of dough across the ricotta filling and set the other 5 strips across them, at a 45 degree angle, to form a lattice. With a pastry brush, paint the lattice top and edges with the egg wash.
Set the cake pan on a baking pan and bake for 1 hour or until the filling has set and the crust is golden. Remove the cake and cool it thoroughly on a rack before unmolding. Right before serving, shake the confectioners' sugar through a sieve to completely coat the top.
NOTES: To toast the pine nuts, set them in a 400 degrees F. oven for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them; they turn from golden to burned in seconds.