Ricotta and Cherry Tart. Photo: Hani Hamawi
Ricotta and Cherry Tart. Photo: Hani Hamawi
Recipe

Ricotta and Cherry Jam Crostata

An easy double crust crostata filled with sweet ricotta, sour cherries, and lightly flavored with elderflower liqueur

The lesser known Italian version of a rustic tart, crostata has close cousins in galettes and pies. Usually filled with fruit or preserves and baked, a crostata can also follow the example of a fresh fruit tart – a blind baked shell filled with pastry cream and topped with fresh fruit or berries. The recipe here is the Roman iteration and is closer to a double crust pie; it was born out of the ingenuity of the Roman Jewish ghetto, when the Jews, who were forbidden from bringing dairy into the ghetto complex, had to figure out a way to smuggle it in.

The recipe for this traditional Ricotta Crostata is made with sheep’s milk ricotta. If unable to find it, you can use cow’s milk ricotta, but it should be set to drain in cheesecloth several hours before use, since ricotta outside of Italy tends to be runnier and the cake may be too moist. You can also use the traditional Visciola cherries if you can find them, but cherry jam, or any other type of jam you like, is also delicious.

Ingredients for Ricotta Crostata

For the dough:

  • 2/3 cup (160 grams) butter at room temperature + extra for greasing
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (120 grams) Sugar
  • grated lemon peel from one lemon
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 2⅓ cups (330 grams) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder 1/2 a packet
  • 4 egg yolks

For the filling:

  • 14 oz (400 grams) ricotta preferably sheep's milk (if you can't find it, you can use cow's milk ricotta)
  • 12.4 oz (350 grams) cherry jam (or any other kind that you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) Sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons elderflower liqueur (optional)

To garnish:

  • confectioner's sugar

Instructions

Drain the ricotta (optional):

  • 1. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl, make sure it does not touch the bottom. Place the ricotta in cheesecloth, squeeze a little and place in the colander. Leave for 4-8 hours to drain (best in the fridge if it's hot outside).

Prepare the dough:

  • 2. In a bowl, mix together all the dough ingredients, except for the egg yolks, until the mixture resembles a course meal. Make a hole in the center, add the egg yolks and continue to mix, by hand, until just uniform. Divide into two parts, form into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Prepare the filling:

  • 3. Mix together the ricotta, egg, sugar and elderflower liqueur (if using).

Assemble and bake:

  • 4. Heat the oven to 320F (160C) degrees, and grease your tart pan or pie dish.

  • 5. Roll each ball of dough out into a circle with a thickness of 1/4 of an inch (1/2 cm).  

  • 6. Line your greased dish with one of the dough rounds and fasten the bottom and sides with your fingers. Trim the excess dough from the edges and pierce the surface with a fork.

  • 7. Spread an even layer of cherry jam on the bottom and cover with the ricotta filling.

  • 8. Cover with the second dough circle, trim any excess off the edges, and pierce gently with a fork.

  • 9. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden. Cool completely and dust with confectioners' sugar.

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Tip: leftover dough can be re-rolled, cut into cookies and baked until golden.

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