Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie Tradition
Lemon Easter Pie – Layers of flaky phyllo dough wrapped around a bright, lemon infused, creamy cheesecake. This ricotta based cheesecake is not only a culinary delight to the taste buds but is a beautiful presentation that all your guests will swoon over.
We can thank Italy for so many wonderful recipes. From Carbonara to Pizza Margherita. But did you know that Italy is famous for cheesecake? Not the traditional cheesecake we know of here in the U.S. but a cheesecake that is baked to creamy perfection in a traditional pie plate. Perhaps though, the pièce de résistance is the light, flaky layers of phyllo dough that is wrapped around the cheesecake before it is baked.
HISTORY OF EAST PIE:
There isn’t any real history documented on the Easter Pie. This of course makes us wonder, is it because it was first created in a small village by a poor villager using what ingredients they had left in their humble pantry? Or perhaps it was made in the presence of royalty and kept secret because they did not want to share its deliciousness with the world. Either way, we know that nothing this good is kept secret for long. Whether it was passed down from one humble villager to another or the leaked secret recipe of royalty, we are glad it made its way to us today.
LEMON EASTER PIE BREAKDOWN:
You heard us right. We used duck eggs. You may not know this but they’re great for baking and pack a protein punch.
Most of our duck eggs are either extra large or jumbo, and extra omega-3 fatty acids in their yolks make duck eggs creamier. Which makes for a creamier cheesecake filling.
One important difference between duck eggs and chicken eggs is that duck egg shells are harder. This not only gives duck eggs a longer shelf life, but also causes less breakage at the store and at home. This means less waste and reducing waste is one of our goals in creating a brighter future for you and your loved ones.
Phyllo dough are the thinnest layers of unleavened dough. This means no yeast or leaveners are used. This also means there is no bread like filling to it either. Just layers of crackly, crispiness. Definitely not your typical cheesecake crust.
Ricotta cheese is light and fluffy, therefore it creates a light and fluffy cheesecake filling. It does have a slight grainy texture and is lower in fat than more traditional cheese.
In keeping with the light and airy trend of this recipe, it only makes sense that lemon zest would be added to bring in bright and fresh notes, perfect for Spring.
Hmmm, we wondered if we should note this one in the breakdown since it is not a traditional cheesecake ingredient. But, since this cheesecake is anything but traditional we decided not to keep it secret.
Rice is a wonderful binder and thickener but also great for keeping the filling moist.
Rice will also take on the flavor of the other ingredients and will add texture while blending in with the rest of the filling.
Almonds are a great pairing with lemon. Almonds have a slight sweetness to them which plays very well with the tart lemon. You will be able to detect the almonds in each bite, they soften as they bake but still keep a bit of crunch.
Now all these special ingredients may have you wondering, “Just how complicated is this Easter Pie?”. The great news is that the process is not hard at all. In fact, except for the butter and phyllo dough, all the ingredients get processed in a food processor and then poured onto the phyllo crust. It just doesn’t get any easier than this, especially for such a beautiful pie.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST LEMON EASTER PIE:
- You can buy your phyllo dough in the freezer section of grocery store. Be sure to buy the sheets and not the cups. You will need the square sheets for the crust.
- Almond extract pairs beautifully with lemon and vanilla, which is why we chose it. Though we highly recommend it, if you do not care for almond flavoring you can omit it.
- For the filling make sure all your ingredients are room temperature. This will allow for even baking. This means the outer edges will not be over baked while waiting for the center to continue baking.
- For the rice we find it best to buy pre-cooked rice. It comes in an airtight bag from Uncle Bens. Standard white rice or Jasmine Rice will work. We do not recommend brown rice as it has too much texture for this recipe.
- Every dessert needs a little bit of “fancy”. We used a dusting of powdered sugar. As simple as it sounds, powdered sugar follows in line with the “light and airy” this cheesecake represents. It also adds a touch of sweetness to the phyllo dough, which is not sweet on its own.
Enjoy this Easter Pie with family and friends. Just make sure you make enough as everyone’s sure to want seconds.
The Best Lemon Easter Pie
- 1 Large Pasture Raised Duck Eggs
- 15 oz Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 tbs Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 tsp Almond Extract
- 2 tbsp Lemon Zest
- 1/2 cup Short Grained Rice, cooked
- 1/3 cup Toasted Slivered Almonds
- 10 sheets Phyllo Sheets, fresh or thawed frozen
- 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Butter a 9 inch pie plate. Set aside.
- Place duck egg, ricotta, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon zest, rice and almonds into food processor. Process until combined, about ten, 2-second pulses. Rice and almonds will still be visible and have texture.
- Lay 1 phyllo square over the bottomand up the sides of the pie plate, the corners of the phyllo squares will hangover the sides.
- Brush with melted butter.
- Top with the second sheet of phyllo dough, it should be laid in theopposite direction as the first phyllo sheet so you have over hang on the opposite sides of the pie plate.
- Brush with melted butter.
- Continue with four more squares of phyllo dough. Remember to alternate each square and butter each layer.
- Pour ricotta mixture into phyllo crust and spread evenly.
- With remaining four phyllo dough squares, lay them over the top of the pie filling, alternating as you did previously and buttering each layer as you go.
- Take the overhanging phyllo dough and flip it over on top of the pie. It will not reach all the way across but this is ok. Butter the edges.
- Bake 35 minutes. Pie should be set in the center and the crust should be a beautiful golden brown.
- Let cool.
- Dust with powdered sugar.