Maltese Ricotta Pie with Lemon Syrup and Pistachios

by eat in my kitchen

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

My friend Essa baked a wonderful cake a few years ago that I never managed to get out of my head. It was a Maltese cheesecake made with ricotta and eggs on top of a thin short crust base topped with sticky lemon syrup and chopped pistachios. It was so good, I dreamt of it! We enjoyed it in her Mediterranean garden, the rustic limestone walls covered in fragrant blue plumbago and white stephanotis flowers – the tantalizing smell of the south and a sweet pie on my plate.

Years have past, Essa forgot about the recipe and I, sadly, couldn’t find the copy that I had made – until a few days ago. I gave it a go in my Maltese mother’s house, in Jenny’s kitchen, the same day I made the happy discovery and it came out as amazing as I remembered it. The filling refined with lemon zest is creamy but fluffy, not as dense as a New York cheesecake. The sticky and sour syrup on top and the generous amount of crunchy nuts turn this cake into something so delicious that I soon regretted the size of the pie tin I chose. We ate it all within less than an hour!

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 Maltese Ricotta Cake with sticky Lemon Syrup and Pistachios

For a 20cm / 8″ pie form you need

short crust dough 250g / 9 ounces (you can use 1/3 of the pastry from my fruit tart recipe, click here)

ricotta 380g / 13 1/2 ounces
lemon zest 1 heaped teaspoon
organic eggs 3
sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
butter, melted, 40g / 2 heaped tablespoons
semolina (fine) 1 heaped tablespoon
pistachios (unsalted), chopped, 40g / 1 1/2 ounces, for the topping

For the lemon syrup
freshly squeezed lemon juice 75ml / 1/3 cup
sugar 50g / 1/4 cup
honey 1 heaped tablespoon

Prepare the dough, form a thick disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (top/ bottom heat).

Roll out the dough between cling film and line your pie form with the flat pastry. Prick with a fork and bake it in the hot oven for 12 minutes. Take it out when it’s golden and set aside. Turn the oven down to 190°C / 375°F.

In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta, zest, eggs and sugar. Add the melted butter and semolina and whisk until well combined. Pour the cheese filling on top of the pre-baked pastry and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until just set (I use a gas oven in Malta so the baking time can be different in an electric oven).

For the syrup, bring the lemon juice, sugar and honey in a sauce pan to the boil and cook for about 4-5 minutes on high heat until thick and golden. Whisk once in a while and mind that it bubbles up while cooking, it shouldn’t burn!

Drizzle the syrup over the ricotta cake and sprinkle generously with pistachios.

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

Maltese Ricotta Cake with Lemon Syrup

 

malteselemonricottapistachiocake9