Italian ricotta cake

Light citrus cheesecakes are a common sight across Italy, where they are made with ricotta in place of cream cheese. The case also differs, made with sweet pastry instead of biscuit crumbs.


  • 55 g (⅓ cup) sultanas
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) marsala (see Note)
  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 1.2 kg fresh ricotta (see Note)
  • 150 g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 tbsp plain flour

Sweet shortcrust pastry

  • 350 g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
  • 100 g pure icing sugar, sifted, plus extra, to dust
  • 150 g cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


Step 1  Place sultanas in a bowl, cover with marsala and soak for 2 hours or overnight. Drain sultanas, reserving 1 tablespoon of marsala, and set aside.

Step 2  To make pastry, place flour and icing sugar in a food processor and process to combine. Add butter and process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add egg and process until dough just comes together. Shape into a disc, enclose in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Step 3  Roll out two-thirds of the pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until 3 mm-thick and use to line the base of a 22 cm cake pan. Roll out remaining pastry until 3mm thick, cut into even pieces and use to line side of pan, pressing edges and base to seal. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 4  Preheat oven to 160°C. Using an electric mixer, beat mascarpone and ricotta until just smooth. Add sugar and beat to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, orange zest, lemon zest and flour, and beat until just combined. Fold in sultanas and reserved marsala. Pour into pastry-lined cake pan and bake for 1 hour or until just set. Turn off oven and allow cake to cool completely in the oven with the door held slightly ajar with a wooden spoon. Remove from oven and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight until cold. Dust cake with extra icing sugar, to serve.

• Marsala is a Sicilian fortified wine available from bottle shops.
• Fresh ricotta is available from the deli section of supermarkets and delis.

Source:  SBS Food – Photography by Brett Stevens. Styling by Berni Smithies.  As seen in Feast magazine, Apr 2014, Issue 30.

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