Italian Baked Ricotta Cheesecake

Friday, February 21, 2014

Papa's Pasticceria in Haberfield is famous for its light, fluffy and unique Ricotta Cheesecake, a cake no sweet tooth (or anyone, for that matter) could ever resist. The cheesecake is not heavy or 'cheesy', per se, but is wonderfully spongey, creamy and airy. Unlike traditional cheesecakes, Papa's cheesecakes is encased all around in a layer of spongey pastry, inside of which reveals a sweet, white ricotta cheese filling. Cinnamon and icing sugar is dusted on top in a criss-cross pattern, a sweet and delicate finish.

I've loved this cake from the moment I had my first mouthful, and have had it on numerous occasions since, one of which was on my birthday. It is one of my all time favourite cakes to eat, so when I stumbled upon this recipe post on Wholesome Cook by blogger Martyna Angell, I knew I just had to try making one for myself.

The recipe seemed simple and easy to follow, and the accompanying pictures were gorgeous and looked just like the original. The comments all listed successes, and when I pulled it out of the oven when finished I must say I was extremely proud of how it turned out.

The recipe can be found here. The first stage of the cheesecake involved making the pastry that was to encase the cake, a mixture of flour sugar, butter, egg, baking powder and cream. This was done using a electric beaters, and once combined chilled in the fridge for a least 15 minutes. Once chilled, it was divided into thirds and one third was rolled out and shaped to fit the bottom of a round springform cake pan. This was baked for 5 minutes in a moderate oven.

The Ricotta filling comprised of both ricotta and cream cheese, with a dash of cream, eggs and a little sugar. Again combined using handy electric beaters, the method was easy to follow at this stage too.

Perhaps the trickiest part of all was rolling out the second third of chilled pastry to line the edges of the cake pan. The side ring of the tin was clasped in and pastry rolled out in a long rectangle with a width that was equal to the height of the pan. Because of the stickiness of pastry, which worsened as it was left out of the fridge for longer, the strips were a bit wonky but this was fixed with some patching up and sealing. The side pastry was pressed and sealed to the cooked base using fingers, then once snug and patch-free the ricotta filling was poured in and smoothed out, with the overhanging pastry from the sides folded in on top.

The final third of pastry was rolled out into a circle the diameter of the base, then carefully transferred onto the top of the filling, and pressed and 'kneaded' gently to seal with the side pastry. Mine had a couple of cracks from the thinner edges of the pastry, but alas there was nothing I could do. I was just happy that I managed to get the lid on top in one piece!

The assembled cheesecake was then baked in the oven for 45 minutes and left to cool in the oven with the door ajar. I think mine could've done for another 5 or 10 minutes to achieve that lovely golden colour on top, but the sides and base were golden enough for it to be not too much of a drama. The recipe suggests chilling the cheesecake in the fridge overnight for  best results, but we ate it the day it was made and it was still gorgeous.

When cut into it was just how a Ricotta Cheesecake should be - light, fluffy and the perfect shade of creamy white. The pastry on top was spongey and went well with the creamy cheese filling, which was surprisingly not sweet at all; if anything it could've done with a little bit more sugar to bring out the ricotta flavour. The side pastry was a little bit harder and crispier than the base and top,  but it was the most golden part of the cheesecake after all. There were no cracks on top and it had set really well. Paired with ice cream it was absolutely divine, and everyone who ate it (we'd had a dinner party that night) commented on how delicious it was, and how much it resembled the original Papa's ricotta cheesecake. I felt extremely accomplished and proud of myself, and would definitely make it again.

Thank you Martyna for your wonderful, inspiring recipe!

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  1. Well done Maddie! I love when people share their success stories from recipes found on my blog! :-) Glad you enjoyed the cake.