Family Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Cream Crostata

Submitted by Francesca Montillo.

Contributing Editor Francesca Montillo (LICA) prepared this one-of-a-kind recipe, and we couldn't wait to share it. We asked Francesca to share a bit on how her Lemon Ricotta Cream Crostata came about...

Where did this recipe come from?

This recipe is a combination of a few ideas and attempts of trial and error. As a native Italian, I have been making jam "crostate" for many, many years now. This came about one year at Easter time when I was looking for an alternative to Crostata di Ricotta. The crust comes from my aunt Ida. I obtained the recipe on a trip back to Italy in 1997. The filling is an experiment turned delicious!

When do you use this recipe?

I generally make this at Easter and spring time but it can go at any time of the year -- it's incredibly delicious!


  • Ingredients for Pastry Cream:
  • 1 lemon peel
  • ½ liter whole milk
  • 120 grams sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 40 grams of flour
  • 250 grams of ricotta cheese
  • Ingredients for the Crust:
  • 150 grams butter at room temperature
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 350 grams flour
  • 1 zest of orange or lemon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk, only if needed


For pastry cream:
1. Wash your lemon and with a pairing knife gently peel your lemon (as if peeling an apple), making sure you don’t remove the pith of the lemon (the white part under the peel) as that is bitter.


For pastry cream:

  • Bring to a boil the milk with the lemon peel.
  • In a separate medium stainless steel pot, mix the egg yolks and sugar until well blended, add vanilla.
  • Sift flour over egg mixture and blend.
  • Turn the heat on to low-medium and in a slow stream, add the hot milk to the egg mixture, mixing fiercely with a wooden spoon so as to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  • Cook the cream for several minutes until it thickens up.
  • Transfer cream to a bowl, place plastic wrap directly above it so as to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool. In the meantime, prepare your crust.

For crust:

  • Mix soft butter with sugar.
  • Add egg and egg yolk and mix well.
  • Slowly add flour, it will look dry and crumbly but it will come together nicely.
  • Add the zest and baking powder and a dash of salt.
  • If dough appears dry, you may add 1-2 tablespoons of milk. You should only need to do this is your butter is not soft enough, or you are using smaller eggs.
  • Invert crust on a slightly floured surface and work the dough until it comes together in a nice ball.
  • Cut about 1/3 of the dough and set aside for topping.
  • Press the remaining 2/3 of dough into a 12-inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray for baking. (If you are concerned about being unable to remove the crostata from the pan after baking, use a tart pan with a removable bottom)
  • Poke the crust with a fork at least 12-15 times, this will prevent any air bubbles from forming while baking.
  • When the pastry cream is cooled, remove the lemon peel and add 250 grams of ricotta cheese and gently fold together.
  • Evenly spread cream and ricotta mixture over crust.
  • With a rolling pin, roll out remaining dough and cut 8-10 equal strips of dough about ½ inch wide. Top the crostata with strips.
  • Bake crostata for 45-55 minutes, until firm.
  • Cool completely before inverting crostata in a serving dish, dust with powdered sugar.


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