There are a handful of desserts my mom and aunts make just for Easter. Torta di Riso, or rice pie, is one of them but interestingly enough, it’s not traditional to the region my parents are from, Lazio. After some researching online, I found that this is a northern Italian Easter dessert. It features Arborio rice (you must use Arborio), eggs (seven of them!), ricotta and has a light lemon flavor. It can be made with or without a bottom crust; I made it with a homemade crust that was really simple. Torta di Riso is quite delicious so, however it made it’s way into my family’s Easter tradition, I’m happy it did!
Note: this isn’t a difficult recipe, but there are a lot of steps. If you read through the whole recipe first, before starting it, it’ll make more sense and be easier to follow.
Torta di Riso (Italian Rice Pie)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces
1 large egg
3 tbsp ice water
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food process. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold, cut up butter and pulse until the dough becomes crumbly in texture.
Add the egg and pulse repeatedly until the dough beings to stick together. Then add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time and pulsing in between, until the dough is holding together well.
Place the dough on a floured board or work surface. Use your hands to form into a circle, then flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice (Italian short-grain rice)
3 cups milk
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon extract
zest of one lemon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pound ricotta cheese, drained
To drain the ricotta cheese, I used a thin dish towel. Lay the dish towel flat, place the ricotta on top of and in the center of the dish towel. Then squeeze the ricotta by twisting the dish towel (over a sink or bowl preferably!) Set the ricotta aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Place rice, milk and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The rice is done when most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is sticky. It should still be a little firm because it will continue cooking in the oven. Remove from heat, drain excess liquid and set aside.
Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until well combined.
Add lemon extract and vanilla extract and beat on low for just a few seconds. Add the drained ricotta and lemon zest and beat until just combined.
Add the cooked rice and mix, by hand (not using the mixer) until well combined. Make sure there are no lumps of sticky rice. Place the mixture in the fridge and take out the dough.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat either a 10.5-inch pie plate or a 9×13″ or 11×15″ rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Place the cold dough on a floured surfaced and roll it out to fit your baking dish. Transfer the dough to your prepared dish, gently pressing it into the bottom and up the sides. Then place the crust into the freezer while the oven continues to preheat.
When oven is preheated, remove the baking dish from the freezer and pour the rice/ricotta filling. Don’t overfill because the rice and ricotta filling will puff up as it’s baking.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes. It is done when the filling has puffed up, it is a golden color and the center is set, meaning it’s firm and doesn’t jiggle when you move the baking dish. Let the pie cool on wire rack then dust with powdered sugar. It can be served room temperature or chilled and stays for 3-4 days in the fridge in an air-tight container.