Roxana Jullapat is the pastry chef at Ammo Cafe.

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I made this pie for the first time when I was a young pastry chef working at a small restaurant. The sole purpose then was to make something delicious with the whole milk ricotta from local producer Gioia and the juicy blueberries my friends had foraged up in the mountains of Big Sur.

For the crust, I prefer cream cheese dough over traditional pie dough. Cream cheese dough holds up better to the liquid content in the ricotta filling, can be baked until a deep golden brown which I favor, and is more versatile since it can be used for both sweet and savory applications (*check Daniel Mattern’s “Wild Spinach Pocket Pie“). The pie filling consists of two layers: lumpy ricotta seasoned with lemon zest goes down first and then a good helping of jammy blueberries tops it off.

At first glance, this recipe may seem labor intensive but it actually can be prepared a few days ahead and finished the day you plan to serve it.

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Ricotta Blueberry Pie
Yields one nine-inch deep-dish pie

For the crust:
7 oz cream cheese, cold, cut into one-inch chunks
7 oz unsalted butter, cold, cut into one-inch chunks
7 oz pastry flour, sifted
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the blueberry topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean
4 cups blueberries
2 Tablespoons brandy

For the ricotta filling:
2 eggs
2 yolks
Zest from 2 lemons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 pound whole milk ricotta

For the crust:
In the electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, pastry flour and salt, and mix at low speed until they come together in a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and flatten into a disc. Wrap with plastic film and refrigerate for 1 hour.

When ready to shape the pie shell, flour a working surface generously and stretch the dough using a rolling pin until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Cut a dough circle that’s big enough to fit into the pie pan – don’t forget to account for an extra inch of dough to crimp a decorative edge. Lightly coat the pie pan with non-stick spray and lay the dough circle inside the pan. Gather the excess dough around the edges and crimp as desired. Refrigerate the pie shell for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

To pre bake the pie shell, coat it lightly with non-stick spray, line it with 3 coffee filters that are slightly over lapping and fill it with dried beans or rice to weight down the dough and prevent it from puffing while in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until deep golden brown. Take out of the oven and cool completely before removing the beans. Set aside.

For the blueberry topping:
While the pie shell is baking, start working on the blueberry topping.

Put sugar and water in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a pairing knife, scrape out the pulp with the back of the knife, and put the pulp and the pod into the pot. Cook over high heat until the mixture comes up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and let it reduce until it resembles a thick syrup. Add 2 cups of blueberries and the brandy and cook into a jam for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Transfer to a separate bowl and let cool completely. Add the remaining 2 cups of blueberries to the cooled mixture and combine thoroughly.

For the ricotta filling:
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, lemon zest, sugar and crème fraîche. Add the ricotta and gently combine it with the egg mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula – the ricotta should remain somewhat lumpy.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

To assemble the pie, pour the ricotta filling into the pre baked shell and then spoon the blueberry topping, making sure the fruit covers the entire surface of the pie. Bake for 55 minutes. The pie will be ready even if it seems giggly in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve the pie while still warmish or at room temperature.

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