March 30, 2011

The Italian Way with Recipes- Crostata con Pecorino e Pere

Now that I have moved my teaching space to Colle Val D'Elsa, I have new inspirations.
While shopping for bread at the local forno, I always point out the type of desserts available at a bread shop. They tend to have the "dry" desserts, baked cookies and jam pies, called crostate as well as pound cakes. Simple home-style desserts to have with breakfast or as a snack in the afternoon.

But a new crostata caught my eye the other day- Fresh ricotta cheese and poached pears.

our "crostata" 

We have a saying here in Tuscany:

Al contadino, non fa sapere--- quando e buono pecorino con le pere.
Don't tell the farmer how good sheep's milk cheese is with pears!

The pears we found in the shop were so juicy there was no reason to poach them.

We bought fresh sheep's milk ricotta and lightly sweetened with granulated sugar, about 1 cup.
I sliced a fresh pear and cut into small bite-size pieces and added some lemon juice to prevent browning.
We folded the pears into the ricotta and spread in the uncooked dough then finished the decorating and baked.

It was perfetto!

What really makes this pie- is the incredible Italian Pasta Frolla- their pie crust.
It is more like a cookie dough, somewhere between a butter cookie and a sugar cookie.

it is all about ratio and ingredients. The Italian normal everyday flour, called 00, is a low gluten flour and very delicate, creating a melt-in-your-mouth crust.
I highly recommend using a scale, as we all measure differently and all use different ingredients.

Pasta Frolla- the Perfect Italian Crust

300 grams pastry flour ( italian 00 flour)
200 grams unsalted butter
100 grams sugar
1 whole egg and 1 yolk ( 60 gram eggs)

I find it easier to crumble the flour, butter and sugar together first. Cutting the butter into the flour and sugar until it looks like grated parmesan cheese.

Then quickly mix in the egg and the yolk and lightly knead until dough forms.

It does not need to rest.

Roll out a little more than half the dough to line a tart pan.

Add filling:
I used:

1 cup fresh sheep's milk ricotta
1 very ripe juicy pear, peeled and cut into small pieces.

Sweeten the ricotta to taste with some granulated sugar.
Stir in the pears and any juice.

Fill the tart shell. It is not a huge pie.

Roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle and cut strips.

Alternate laying of the strips to create lattice work.

Fold edges of pie over to create border.
Bake at 350 until golden.

I think this would be lovely for Easter holidays.

If you can't find Sheep's milk ricotta, perhaps just stir in 2 tbs of sour cream into your ricotta to give it a nice tang.



  1. Anonymous12:42 PM

    Looks beautiful and will definitely try this!

  2. This is my new favorite recipe. Delicious--ricotta cheese and pears. Divine!!!Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

  3. you added some jam on the bottom and then the ricotta/pear on top?

  4. Judy, do you think cake flour would be a good substitute or WhiteLily (that Southern flour)?

  5. as easter is coming up , i will give this recipe a go ! buona pasqua e grazie.

  6. renaccio-- no- I didn't add jam, the normal recipe is just jam-- instead I did the ricotta and pear filling. Nutella is also popular for kids.

  7. Maureen- White Lily is perfect! or pastry flour- important that it is a lower gluten flour for these ratio's

  8. Hi! It surely looks Delicious and yummy! Anyway let me tell you that you shouldn't use the word 'pecorino' here. Pecorino is a salty, firm cheese you probably would use on a amatriciana pasta but not in a sweet cake.
    You should say 'ricotta di pecora' that is just what you used so well.
    Have fun!

  9. Thanks Marco--- the whole pecorino and pear thing is about they saying-- and it is pecorino romano that is salty for pasta but pecorino in TUscany is not salty!!

    I did say i was using sheep's milk ricotta which is ricotta di pecora--- in the recipe and in the story
    I don't think people will make it with ricotta salata!
    but thanks- you never know