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Ricotta Cheesecake from Rome’s Jewish Quarter

This tender ricotta cheesecake, sometimes referred to as a pudding (budino di ricotta), started out as a pancake. Food historian Clifford Wright notes that Sicilian Jews took their traditions of making and cooking with ricotta to Rome when they were expelled from Sicily in the fifteenth century and a version of this recipe came with them. You can still find this delicious dessert in Rome’s Jewish quarter in its simplest form—eggs, sugar, homemade ricotta and cinnamon. In our recipe, we separate the eggs and fold in the beaten whites, which makes the cake even more delicate.–Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hircheimer

LC Pretty and Puddinglike Note

This pretty, puddinglike cheesecake took us a little by surprise, being, well, prettier and more puddinglike than most. Not that we’re complaining. Besides, we find that a pretty darn good way to navigate life is to trust that when you encounter something that looks like cheesecake and tastes like cheesecake, chances are it’s cheesecake. And those cracks? Pshaw. This lovely creature is so light and airy, cracks are inevitable. Look at it this way: They add to the homemade quality of it all–if, that is, you made your own ricotta to grace the cake. Which you did, right? Right?

Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups fresh whole milk ricotta, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 lemon, preferably organic, zested

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Use the 1 tablespoon of butter to coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, and then dust the pan with the bread crumbs.


  • 2. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy, about 5 minutes. Process the ricotta, Grand Marnier, and zest in a food processor until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold the ricotta into the egg mixture until the batter is well mixed.


  • 3. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk or an electric mixer fitted with a whisk until frothy. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice and continue to beat until the whites are stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites in two batches. (Take care not to overmix, which would cause the batter to deflate.)


  • 4. Pour the ricotta batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cheesecake until golden and firm to the touch, 40 to 50 minutes. (You may need to cover it loosely with foil to avoid over browning.) Remove the cake from the oven and transfer the pan to a rack to cool. (It will sink as it cools.) The cake is best served warm or at room temperature. (It loses a little flavor when it’s refrigerated.)


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