Rafaella Giamundo's torta, which has the graininess of a traditional Italian cheesecake rather than the smoothness of a New York cheesecake, is inspired by a recipe from Ada Boni's cookbook Il Talismano della Felicità (the talisman of bliss). The Giamundos always give this book as engagement presents.
Plus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, divided into 3 pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 pounds ricotta (3 cups)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons anise liqueur
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
How to Make It
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt and pulse several times. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the eggs and milk and pulse until lightly moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times until smooth. Form the dough into 2 disks, 1 slightly larger than the other. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to 3 days.
In a food processor, combine the ricotta, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, anise liqueur and vanilla and process until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured work surface or between sheets of plastic, roll out the larger disk of dough to a 13-inch round. Line a 10-by-1 1/2-inch pie plate with it. Patch any cracks. Spoon in the filling. Roll out the remaining disk of dough to an 11-inch round. Brush the pastry pie rim with water and set the round on top. Press the edges together to seal. Trim the overhanging dough and crimp decoratively. Make 3 small slashes in the top and brush with the egg wash. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden; cover with foil if it browns too quickly. Let cool on a rack to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
A limoncello like Luxardo will echo the delicious lemon flavors in the cake.
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