Monday, April 20, 2009

Ugly Pie

So, step two. We’d made our ricotta Saturday afternoon, but Saturday night I had a party to attend, so the pie had to wait.

It was tricky squeezing in the pie-making on Sunday. My boyfriend’s daughter was having her eighth birthday party that afternoon – but if I didn’t bake it Sunday he wouldn’t even get to try it. So, Sunday morning, we dove right into it.

Actually, technically, he dove right into it. He and Emma made the crust while I was in the shower. This is where problem number one struck – the dough was so crumbly it wouldn’t even stick together, let alone submit to a rolling-out. So we added a dribble of milk at a time until it would just barely stick.

It still wouldn’t really roll out properly, so I just sort of squished it into the bottom of the pie plate. I pressed it flat with the bottom of a measuring cup. I hoped the top half would sort-of-roll.

Then, the filling. The recipe didn’t specify how much orange and lemon zest you should use, or indeed whether you should use one or the other or both. So, I used a teaspoon of each. Why not?

Otherwise, the filling went together really easily – but then wouldn’t fit in the pie plate! And not by a small margin, either. We poured the extra into a bowl to bake it there.

The top dough half did roll out reasonably well. It sure was ugly, though. I can make food taste good, but I’m not always great at making it look pretty. This pie was no exception. I took a little square of dough and put it on top of the mini-pie, too.

Then it was time to put it into the oven. We couldn’t figure out what was happening at the time, but later realized that the lower heating element in his oven is broken. We could only get it to heat on “Preheat,” and only the top element would go on. “Bake” makes it turn off, and “Broil” works the same as “Preheat.” But this realization didn’t come to us till much later. At any rate, in essence what was happening was that his oven was perpetually set for “Broil” – and as I’m sure you all know, “Broil” is not the proper setting for a pie.

We had exactly the hour the recipe called for within which to bake this pie. I set it in with the foil on top as the directions said. When it got hot enough, I set it to bake. When I went to take the foil off for the last half hour, though, the oven wasn’t hot. In fact I could pull the rack out with my bare hands. There wasn’t anything for it but to put the thing in the refrigerator and hope for better luck after the party; no time to worry about it now.

After the party we came back ready for some baking. Except of course we still had the same problem. And of course I took the foil off the top and got a broiled pie. Thankfully, the smell of burning pastry brought me running and I put the foil back on before too much damage was done. But the pie was only half-baked when it was time for me to go home.

I left my boyfriend with the mini-pie and tried to finish off the baking in my own oven. Alas, by now I was quite paranoid about the whole thing, and I think I may have overbaked it; it was a bit dryer than I expected when I ate it. And, the crust rose so much that the proportion of crust to filling was kind of strange; almost two parts crust to one part filling. But, the flavor was fantastic, and it sure made for a great mid-morning snack today.

If I had it to do over, and odds are that I will, I would scale the recipe back about two-thirds. I would probably also only make a bottom crust; the filling has a nice, light flavor to it that I don’t think will be too overwhelming with only one crust. I’m putting the recipe down the way I made it, though, without any corrections (and with the alterations I made myself for my own reasons).

Pizza Dolce

2 cups all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup or less milk

Combine the flour, baking powder, and sugar together. Cut in the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. If too dry, dribble in milk and mix until the dough holds together. Divide dough into two balls and chill (if needed – I didn’t).

Roll out one of the balls to fit into the pie pans. Do not make the crust too thick as it will expand during cooking and get too thick. (Mine got very thick anyway!) Do not flute the edges of the dough. Roll out the other ball of dough and cut into 8 narrow strips for the top of the crust. Alternately you can use cookie cutters and place the cutouts on the top of the pies.

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp orange zest
3 cups ricotta (1½ pounds)

Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and zests until well blended. Stir in (don't over beat) in the ricotta. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust; cover the edges of the pie with foil. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake another 30 minutes.


  1. Well, I want to be sure I share my disasters along with my successes. Sometimes when people try to make a positive change, they turn a little perfectionist. So here, anyone that stops by to read can see it's not so important to do this "just so."

  2. God that Pizza Dolce sounds delish!