Torta di Ricotta


I wish I could share the source of this recipe, but I can’t. It dates back to the days when I borrowed cookbooks instead of buying them. I would get stacks of cookbooks every week from our local library, zerox favorite recipes, glue them onto large index cards, and then go back for more. This was all for economic reasons, as there was a period of time while raising our daughters that the purchase of cookbooks would have been completely extravagant and irresponsible.

This recipe is definitely Italian in origin, and I’m wondering if it’s from a Lorenza de Medici cookbook. But whose ever it is, it’s one of the few desserts I’ve made on many an occasion when I need to give a small gift of food for one person, or perhaps for just a few of us getting together for a girly lunch.

It’s a small ricotta-based cheesecake, that is moist and full of flavor. I hope you like it, too!

Torta di Ricotta

1 pound ricotta cheese, whole-milk only
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons brandy
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup pine nuts, but today I used pistachios
Softened butter for the pan

Drain the ricotta overnight in a cheesecloth-lined sieve.

Soak the raisins in the rum. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the zest of the orange and lemon to a small bowl, and add the vanilla to the same bowl.


Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until pale yellow.


Add the drained ricotta, salt, and citrus zests, and blend thoroughly. Add the pine nuts and raisins and rum, blending well.


Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold them into the cake batter.


Brush a 6″ springform pan with softened butter. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and bake 30 to 35 minutes.


Use a tester in the middle to make sure the torta is ready to come out of the oven. It will look like this:


Cool for about half an hour, then turn onto a serving plate. It’s good warm or at room temperature.


The torta will slice very easily. I served mine with some macerated strawberries, which just means that I sprinkled some white sugar over sliced strawberries, tossed them gently, and let them sit for about 20 minutes or so.


But this torta di ricotta is such a delight, it doesn’t really need anything at all!


verdict: The pistachios were just as good as the pine nuts.

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48 thoughts on “Torta di Ricotta

  1. Lovely cake. I have a similar recipe sent to me typed by a cookery writer I was working with many years ago who lived in Italy. I used to make it a lot. I’ve been thinking I should try it again sometime and maybe now you’ve done this I’ll be inspired!

  2. Torta di Ricotta is something I’ve had all over Italy, and some decent restaurants in London too, and it is divine. I’m adding this to my list of must-tries!

  3. Your post brought me memories of my sister in Brazil, she used to make a ricotta cake that I think was very similar, although if I remember correctly she add no nuts. Nuts were very expensive in Brazil when I was growing up, maybe that’s why Brazilian versions omitted them?

    Beautiful post, as usual…

  4. This looks so good. I’m saving the recipe and will make it soon! I used to save recipes the way you described. Now I’m much better at noting where I get the recipe. Always handy if I need to go back to the source for more info, etc. And I love saving things on the computer – but I still have my binders with my recipes as well. If I could just gather them in one place! haha Thanks for sharing!!

    • You are way smarter than I am! I have my boxes still, as well. And typing takes so much time if you have lots of recipes collected. There’s just not one good way, I think.

  5. Oh wow, thats beautiful, love torta di ricotta. There was a bakery in Naples that made something similar and I had to have a slice every time I went there. Just lovely.

  6. Your ricotta torta looks scrumptious! I had a similar problem when sharing some of my mom’s old dessert recipes. When I was in my youth, I would copy some of my favourite recipes on 3×5 cards but of course there was no reference as to the old magazine or book she referenced it from but it became part of our family recipes and then of course modified along the way. Take Care, BAM

    • I collected recipes the same way – I think a lot from my mother’s McCall’s magazines. Oh well, if you’re like me, you never follow a recipe exactly anyway, and adapt recipes over the years like you said.

  7. Lovely torts, Mimi. I bet it was delicious. I well remember clipping recipes or writing them down. I never used the public library as a source because I was terrible about returning them timely. I did, however, trade books with my friends and may family always knew a cookbook was a good Christmas or birthday gift.

  8. Very nice, Mimi, and it does seem authentic to me. I’ll have to try something like this :-)
    By the way, you didn’t specify the amount or type of vanilla. In Italy they use either vanilla pods or sugar with synthetic vanilla (not vanilla extract as in the US, although I do find it very handy).

  9. I never warmed to my Italian mother-in-law’s ricotta pie (grocery store candied fruits … ugh). But I think this cake has taken the best of it and improved upon it! I remember those public library cookbook days, too. I have a whole ring binder full of copies and retypes—and even though I’ve bought most of the favorites in the years since, I can’t seem to make myself throw it away.

  10. I’ve got so many clippings etc. of recipes that I finally filed them all in different folders so I can find them easier. I will NEVER be able to make them all – even if I live to be 100!. I love this recipe – it looks yummy – and I’ve already pinned it. And, I’m so very pleased you recently began following my blog! I’ve really been remiss lately with my posting – I’m out in working in my gardens too much…

  11. This sounds delicious. the recipe sort of sounds like Russian Pashka, but that one uses Galliano liqueur. I think I can low-carb this with a sugar sub and plan to make it sometime!

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