Cakes, Pies & Tarts, Dessert

Crostata Ricotta e Marmellata di Visciole (Ricotta and Sour Cherry Crostata)

Nicoletta April 5, 2019

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Crostata Ricotta e Marmellata di Visciole (Ricotta and Sour Cherry Crostata), a delicious and irresistible dessert of the Jewish Roman cuisine. A lemon flavored pasta frolla (shortcrust pastry), filled with a layer of visciole (sour cherry jam or fresh sour cherries), and a layer of sweetened ricotta. To this day, you can enjoy this crostata in Rome in the Jewish Ghetto’s bakeries, or in many restaurants specialized in traditional Roman cuisine.

Song of the day: Sting, Shaggy – Just One Lifetime

Rome has a way of getting under your skin. Despite the traffic, the loudness of its people, the amount of tourists any time of the year, the incoherences.

 

 

Rome is not an “easy” city to live in, but it is also a unique city, and one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. You can rant and rave about all the things that do not work, that you would like were different and better. But in the end, all it takes to forget -if just momentarily- is a walk through the city getting “lost” in its alleys. Even after a lifetime in Rome, you still admire the magnificence and wonder at how amazing its iconic foods are.

Like this Crostata Ricotta e Marmellata di Visciole (Ricotta and Sour Cherry Crostata).

crostata ricotta e visciole

Crostata Ricotta e Visciole 

It seems that the origins of the Crostata Ricotta e Visciole date back to the 18th century, when a papal edict forbade Jews to sell dairy products to Christians. It was then that the bakers, to elude the controls of the papal guards, decided to hide the ricotta between two layers of pastry and mixing it with the sour cherries to make it less visible. As a matter of fact, the traditional Jewish tart does not have the lattice top as the usual crostata, but it is covered with a layer of pastry on top.

Since there is no official recipe, there are several variations:

  • the purists who use whole visciole (sour cherries) instead of visciolata (sour cherry jam),
  • those who mix the ricotta with the sour cherries instead of keeping the two layers distinct,
  • those who omit the egg in the ricotta,
  • those who stay traditional and cover the crostata with a layer of pastry,
  • and the ones who decorate it with the lattice top.

Only one thing seems to be imperative: the ricotta has to be sheep’s ricotta, typical of Rome and the area, ricotta that is richer and “fatter” than the lighter cow’s ricotta.

I chose to separate the layers of ricotta and sour cherry jam and make the lattice top. I made the lozenges wider but stayed traditional to the definition of a crostata.

crostata ricotta e visciole

How to describe a crostata

Crostata is the quintessential Italian dessert. Store bought or homemade, it is the dessert we make and eat the most, in all its variations. A bit like a pie, a lot like a tart, crostata has its own personality. Not to be confused with a galette which has a free-form crust, the crostata is a baked tart that has a shortcrust pastry at the bottom, and -mostly- a lattice crust on top. In the middle, there can be different fillings: jam, chocolate, ricotta, ricotta and jam, cream and fruit. The crostata can also be blind-baked and then filled with pastry cream (crema pasticciera) and topped with fresh fruit, and this is called crostata di frutta.

Every occasion is good for Crostata

Every occasion can be a special occasion to make crostata. Typical end of a Sunday lunch, or Christmas and Easter dessert, it is nonetheless one of those baked goods that we frequently make just to have it around the house or to bring when invited over to someone’s house.

The Crostata Ricotta e Visciole is no exception. Although not exclusively made during Easter time, being a dessert featuring ricotta it is pretty common to find it at Easter like other typical ricotta cakes.

crostata ricotta e visciole

Crostata Ricotta e Visciole is rich and light, sweet and tangy at the same time, in an idyllic duality where differences and extremes often coexist.

For those coming to Rome, a tourist stop is recommended to visit the Jewish quarter and taste this delicacy in one of the most historic Ghetto bakeries in Via del Portico d’Ottavia. In the meantime, you can still have a true taste of Rome just making it at home.

Try it, it will become a favorite for sure!

Enjoy!

Song of the day: Sting, Shaggy – Just One Lifetime

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crostata ricotta e visciole

Crostata Ricotta e Marmellata di Visciole (Ricotta and Sour Cherry Crostata)

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 people 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Crostata Ricotta e Marmellata di Visciole (Ricotta and Sour Cherry Crostata), a delicious and irresistible dessert of the Jewish Roman cuisine. A lemon flavored pasta frolla (shortcrust pastry), filled with a layer of visciole (sour cherry jam or fresh sour cherries), and a layer of sweetened ricotta. To this day, you can enjoy this crostata in Rome in the Jewish Ghetto’s bakeries, or in many restaurants specialized in traditional Roman cuisine.


Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry:

  • 300 g flour (I used organic, stone ground flour type 1, less refined than 00)
  • pinch of salt
  • 120 g sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 150 g unsalted butter, cold, cubed
  • 3 egg yolks, organic, free-range
  • the grated zest of 1 organic lemon

For the filling:

  • 1 jar (300-350 g) sour cherry jam (visciolata)
  • 400 g sheep ricotta (if you can find it, otherwise any kind)
  • 80 g granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp Sambuca or rum (optional, in place of the vanilla)

Instructions

For the shortcrust pastry:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, the pinch of salt, the sugar, and mix. Add the cubed butter and pulse until you have a pebbly consistency. Add the egg yolks, and the grated lemon peel. Pulse a few times, or until it is starting to stick together. Pour it onto a work surface and work it into a ball, then flatten it, and wrap it with plastic wrap. Leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. In a bowl, pour the ricotta and the sugar, then work it with a fork or a whisk until creamy. Add the egg, and the vanilla or liqueur, if using. Whisk well. You can drain the ricotta if too watery, and also pass it through a sieve to remove any lumps.

Assembly:

  1. Take the pastry out of the refrigerator, remove a third of the dough and set it aside (you will need it for the top).
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180° C).
  3. Butter a 24-cm springform baking pan.
  4. Roll out the bigger piece of dough (if too delicate to roll, place it in the baking pan and press to spread the dough evenly in the pan and up the sides).
  5. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork, then spread the sour cherry jam evenly. Pour the ricotta filling over the jam. Level well.
  6. Form the wide strips with the shortcrust pastry put aside and arrange them over the ricotta filling to form the classic diamond shape (lattice) pattern. Press the border with a fork to seal.
  7. Bake the crostata in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until golden. Once cooled, take it out from the baking pan.
  8. Ready to serve!

Notes

You can dust icing (powdered) sugar on top.

You can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days and serve it at room temperature or cold.

You can use fresh sour cherries (200-250 g) in place of the sour cherry jam.

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crostata ricotta e visciole

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25 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Milena April 10, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Sour cherries are one of my weaknesses and I love the combo with sweetened ricotta here. Not to mention the poetic name of this crostata – seriously, hearing it immediately creates and aura around the pretty pastry:) Pinned!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 10, 2019 at 10:39 am

      Thank you, Milena! It is so incredibly delicious! If only I could share it with you, I know you would love it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Patti April 12, 2019 at 9:06 am

    This recipe is so amazing, and your photos are amazing. I love the history behind this delicious dessert, too. A trip to Rome isn’t in my budget right now, but at least, I can taste the flavors from my own kitchen. Your post has left me with no choice but to say this. ‘Assuming that we’ll make it
    We’ve no choice but to Bake it” (Imagine me winking at you here.)

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 12, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      I imagined your wink 😉 . Thank you so much, loved your comment!

  • Avatar
    Reply Veena Azmanov April 12, 2019 at 11:33 am

    This is super delicious and picture perfect. The flavors and the look of this dish is mouth melting. Have never tried one and this is a grab for me. Love it.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 12, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      Thank you for your words, not supported by the two stars you gave the recipe.

  • Avatar
    Reply Tammy April 12, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    This is one stunning pie. I’ve never made a crostata with a lattice topping before but I cannot wait to make this now. I know my whole family would love this <3

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 13, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Thank you so much! I think they would 🙂 . In Italiy crostata is made with a lattice top most of the times.

  • Avatar
    Reply Heather April 13, 2019 at 7:35 am

    This is such a beautiful dessert. I love the idea of using sour cherry jam and ricotta together. I was in Rome last year I wish I had found this dessert there! Guess I’ll have to make it myself 😉

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 13, 2019 at 10:19 am

      Oh, I wish you had tasted it there! Next time, or you can make it yourself now 🙂 . Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Linda April 13, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    This dessert is everything I need! I mean who can say no to ricotta and rum. They both make a perfect combo, and this dessert is perfect for my next gathering.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 15, 2019 at 12:04 am

      Thank you, Linda! I didn’t add any rum but some people definitely do 🙂 ! It is such a delicious dessert, your guests would love it1

  • Avatar
    Reply Amanda April 14, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Oh, I love anything with ricotta, so this is my kind of dessert! And that sour cherry jam addition is super delicious. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 15, 2019 at 12:05 am

      Ricotta is so amazing in baked goods! And the pairing with jam is super delicious. Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Charity April 14, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Sour cherries are my favorite thing about summer! Loving this recipe. Will have to make homemade jam so I can make this!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 15, 2019 at 12:07 am

      I still have frozen sour cherries in our freezer in Canada. I will make it again as soon as I go back. Homemade jam is simply the best.Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Markus Mueller April 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Wow, have you thought about writing a cookbook!? You really should, your desserts are always stunning, and make me want to start baking! I’d buy a copy! Sadly I don’t bake nearly as many desserts anymore, but I may give this a shot for Easter weekend!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 15, 2019 at 12:11 am

      The thought has crossed our minds… 🙂 Thank you! I bake almost every day. Hope you try it, would love to hear a feedback.

  • Avatar
    Reply Karyl Henry April 14, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    What a beautiful dessert! I’ve never been to Rome, but it’s definitely on my bucket list. And I’m on a mission to figure out how to make this as well.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 15, 2019 at 12:12 am

      Hope you go soon! It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world (not only because it is my city 😉 ). This is a very traditonal Roman dessert, hope you try it!

  • Avatar
    Reply lauren April 14, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    This is so beautiful! I love the flavor combination. I fell in love with sour cherries this summer and can’t wait to use them again. Ricotta is such a versatile cheese for savory or sweet, this sounds amazing.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 15, 2019 at 12:13 am

      I cannot wait every summer to go sour cherry picking at our friends’ acreage! Ricotta is amazing and we Italians use it a lot 😉 . Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Julie April 14, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    This is just gorgeous! It reminds me of the Italian take on a Bakewell Tart, with the shortbread crust and layer of cherry jam or preserves. Sounds delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 15, 2019 at 12:27 am

      It is super delicious! Yes, they could be cousins 😉 It is one of the most traditional Roman Jewish desserts. Everybody knows it, everybody loves it. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Marisa November 9, 2019 at 11:09 am

    That layer of cherry jam, ricotta filling and flaky crust is pure heaven!

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