Celebrate your weekend or any other planned get-together with this beautiful Ricotta pie.
It's deliciously filled with creamy honey, and orange-zest flavored ricotta cheese, while the crust is subtly sweet with that perfect hint of rum. You will be in tart heaven!
Although traditionally served with Easter, this ricotta dessert is so easy to make with its 5 minutes no-roll pie crust, so you can easily enjoy it year-round.
Yes, kids can eat this ricotta pie as well, since the tiny amount of alcohol will cook away, and only a deliciously flavored crust is left, giving off nutty and vanilla tasting notes—my daughter loves this pie!
It's a ricotta bake that is gluten-free with a deliciously creamy filling and rustic pie crust.
You'll appreciate this ricotta pie recipe because it is straightforward to make, yet it looks so rustic and gorgeous once it comes out of the oven.
And it tastes amazing!
- From the filling to the crust, the sweetness is wonderfully balanced. I often make it as an Easter pie dessert;
- But it equally belongs on a cozy brunch table—think delicious homemade egg dishes, fruity drinks, mocktails, or coffee drinks, and the colorful display of nut butter spreads, jams, waffles, or sweet bread next to your favorite cheeses, charcuterie, and the rustic look of this Ricotta cheese pie to add a delicious sweet treat.
- Kids and adults alike get really excited about this bake in my household.
- And it's purely designed to keep your family and friends around the table for a little while longer as you catch up, relax and indulge in a slice of this Italian ricotta pie.
Any leftovers store easily in the fridge for up to one week—best stored in an airtight container or at least covered.
And it's lovely to enjoy any extra slices with your favorite cup of coffee or tea as an afternoon indulgence.
How to make ricotta pie
There are two parts to making this pie.
First, there is the creamy ricotta filling:
- Sweetened with only honey;
- Adding a natural orange taste;
- Mixed with whipped egg whites to get a light, creamy texture;
- And only adding a small amount of gluten-free flour so the pie filling develops the right amount of firmness during baking;
- The ricotta filling is then briefly stored in the fridge to keep it firm while making the pie dough.
Then there is the pie crust:
- It's a homemade no-roll dough that easily comes together—no rolling pin required;
- Everything is mixed by hand and pushed evenly into a pie pan;
- It doesn't have to be thin either; it's more of a free-form tart-like rustic-looking crust that will have a nice crunchy bite to it;
- Delicious flavorings are added too like vanilla extract and subtle nutty undertones from a good Brandy or rum;
- It's also lightly sweetened with coconut sugar to add some hint of caramel;
- You can even make this in advance and store it well wrapped for a few days in the fridge.
Let's make it.
The ricotta cheese filling
We're making the ricotta filling first. It is super easy to make, and you want to refrigerate the creamy mixture while preparing the crust to firm up a little.
Ingredients & notes
You can choose whole milk or part-skim ricotta cheese. However, the part-skim version can sometimes contain more liquid in the box. Therefore, always drain it to obtain a solid and creamy texture.
I prefer the whole milk ricotta cheese—rich but not too heavy and with a fuller flavor. But either one will work.
Adding four tablespoons of flour thickens the mixture, adds an extra soft texture to the filling and the right amount of firmness once baked.
I like to use either gluten-free all-purpose flour or cassava flour.
Use a Microplane or any grater to zest half to one orange—depending on its size—to get one tablespoon of orange zest. It adds that citrusy, tangy flavor to this beautiful ricotta pie recipe.
Only zest the colorful part of the peel and not the white part. You want to avoid the more bitter flavors of the orange pith.
I usually rework the peeled orange in a green smoothie.
They go well with the orange flavor and are always readily available at almost all stores or online.
How to make the ricotta filling
The pie dough
This is not your typical super flaky pie crust but nonetheless deliciously crumbly and full of flavor.
It's a healthier version of a pie dough than normally used in an Italian ricotta recipe. We love this beautiful rustic-looking sweet crust made with a combination of Teff flour—an ancient grain—and gluten-free all-purpose flour.
And everything is easily formed by hand.
Ingredients & a few extra notes
Teff flour adds not only a good amount of nutrition but also a lovely natural sweetness to the crust and a beautiful rustic red-brownish color—Bob's Red Mill sells a good stone-ground version.
Coconut sugar and vanilla extract add an extra hint of sweetness.
I've never tried it before, but I imagine that you could easily use brown sugar instead if you don't have any coconut sugar at hand.
You don't need any chilled butter. Instead, the recipe calls for butter at room temperature (soft enough to easily combine it by hand with the rest of the ingredients).
Go for unsalted butter if you can, but no worries, I've used salted butter before as well.
Brandy or rum
What gives the pie crust a more sophisticated flavor is the addition of Brandy or rum. You can choose either one, but if I have both available I'll go for Brandy.
Brandy is made with wine or fermented fruit juices, while rum is made using molasses or sugarcane juices.
There is NO BOOZY taste, rather it is added for moisture, a crumblier texture, and a richer flavor that goes well with the orange-flavored ricotta cheese.
Don't skip this ingredient.
I'm adding two large beaten eggs to make the crust beautifully compact.
It's best to take the eggs out 30 minutes before making the pie dough to have them at room temperature.
How to make the no-roll pie crust
- In a large bowl whisk the flour with the coconut sugar. Make quick swishing motions to mix the ingredients and fluff it.
- Then add the butter, vanilla extract, eggs, and Brandy. Combine the ingredient by hand until you have a rough bowl of pie dough.
- Transfer the dough into the center of a removable tart/pie pan. I usually lightly butter the bottom of the pan a little (optional).
- Push the dough into the pie pan and up the sides, using your hands. You want to get the dough at an even thickness throughout—no thick corners either.
Now all that is left is putting it together.
Easy pie topping design—optional
This tart doesn't need any garnish. It looks incredible once baked with its golden colors.
But if you want to take it a step further, keep it simple with orange rind matchsticks.
- Cut the peel of the other half of the orange (or a second small orange) into large segments.
- Remove any thick white parts from the inside of the peel.
- Flatten the segments out on the cutting board with the palm of your hand.
- And then, with a sharp knife, cut from end to end into thin sticks.
- Give each orange stick a light squeeze to bend them a bit and arrange crisscross on one side of the tart—see picture.
- You can add some edible flowers, sprinkle extra orange zest, sift on top some powdered sugar, or use some dried or fake eucalyptus leaves—these are just a few suggestions.
Equipment needed to make this ricotta pie
This is one of the easiest ricotta bakes you'll ever make. Since most of it is made by hand you don't need a lot of special equipment.
I do recommend a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (I have a few that are very affordable). And if you have a stand mixer to whip the egg whites, perfect, if not, a hand mixer can work too.
This Italian dessert
- Is beautifully rustic looking;
- Deliciously creamy, slightly sweet, and wonderfully soft in the middle;
- It has that buttery, almost cookie-like crust that everyone will love;
- And sophisticated flavors due to the orange zest and a tad of Brandy or rum;
- Around the Holidays, this tart is always a family favorite.
Enjoy this sweet ricotta pie!
Ricotta Cheese Filling
- 2 large egg whites (from 2 eggs at room temperature)
- 15 ounces (425 grams) fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
- ⅓ cup (100 grams) local honey
- Grated zest of an orange (1 tablespoon), reserve the rest of the peel for garnish
- 4 tablespoons (35 grams) gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups (170 grams) gluten-free all-purpose flour, plus more to sprinkle work surface
- 1 cup (138 grams) Teff flour
- ½ cup (75 grams0 coconut sugar
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) pure butter, melted or at room temperature (soft enough to easily combine it by hand with the rest of the ingredients)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons Brandy or rum
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius
Make the ricotta cheese filling:
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until firm—use a hand or stand mixer. See the note below on what to do with the yolks.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with the honey and the grated orange zest—best to use a whisk.
- Fold the firm egg whites into the honey ricotta mixture—best to use a spatula.
- Cover and store in the fridge while you are preparing the crust.
Make the pie dough (crust):
- Combine the all-purpose flour with Teff flour and coconut sugar in a large bowl. Whisk, making quick swishing motions to mix the dry ingredients and fluff it.
- Then add the butter, vanilla extract, eggs, and Brandy.
- Combine the ingredients in the bowl. The dough will first be crumbly.
- Then use your hands to combine everything until you get a rough ball (see picture). If the mixture is too dry to form a rough ball, add one extra tablespoon of Brandy or honey.
- Transfer the dough to the center of the tart or pie pan. I usually lightly butter the bottom of the pan a little (optional).
- Press firmly into the bottom and up the sides, ensuring all corners are equally covered. You want to get the dough at an even thickness throughout.
Assemble the pie:
- Transfer the reserved ricotta mixture onto the pie crust in the pie pan and, with a spatula, divide it equally over its surface.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until filling in the middle is set (some spots might become golden brown, and that's okay).
- Cool completely.
- Before serving, garnish tart with curled orange peels and some sugar powder (optional)
- Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature or refrigerate until serving.
ORANGE PEELS FOR GARNISH (OPTIONAL):
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the orange skin of a small orange.
- Start from the top and peel in one swoop to the bottom of the orange.
- Slice the thick peel into thin matchsticks
- Bend them slightly and arrange them crisis cross onto one side of the tart (see picture.)
- You can sprinkle over some extra orange zest and decorate further with lavender leaves, edible flowers, or crushed hazelnuts (these are just a few suggestions).
Cover and store up to one week in the fridge in an airtight container.
Store the unused egg yolks in an airtight container and use either the same or the next day to make an omelet or throw in with other eggs to make a scrambled egg dish. You can also use boxed egg whites, but egg whites from fresh eggs separated from their yolk always seem to firm up better.
Equipment: 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom
Ricotta cheese: always drain off any liquid that can sit at the bottom of a Ricotta cheese box to obtain a solid and creamy texture in this dessert.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 431
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.
Ricotta cheese is a deliciously creamy and soft fluffy cheese made from either cow's, goat, sheep, or even buffalo milk.
For this recipe, though I always use cheese made from cow's milk which is also readily available in grocery stores or online.
At home, I always have some in my fridge because we love it as a spread on toasted bread with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top—just delicious—or as a creamy dollop for fruit salads, waffles, or pancakes.
Teff flour is a wonderful whole grain product that is also gluten-free and has naturally a slight sweet flavor.
It's a great gluten-free alternative for baking goods. For this ricotta pie recipe, I use a mix of this ancient grain with gluten-free all-purpose flour to create the perfect blend for a tasty bite-worthy pie crust.
Rum or Brandy can give off beautiful nutty and vanilla tasting notes that work well with this ricotta pie filling.
Since the recipe calls for only 4 tablespoons, the alcohol will cook off but adds a subtle delicious flavor like vanilla extract.
Note that the quality of your alcohol can affect your final bake.
Yes, you can combine Teff flour with cassava flour (also gluten-free) for this recipe.
But note that the crust, although still good, will be a little bit more on the drier side once baked.
I believe that a mix of teff flour and gluten-free all-purpose flour will get you the best end result.
This post was originally published in April 2017 and has since been updated with new pictures and new information.