As soon as I can get my hands on fresh berries in the spring, I start incorporating them into everything from muffins to tarts. While frozen berries can (and do) have as much flavor as their fresh counterparts, fresh berries have more texture and that makes them a bit easier to work with. This Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pie is a wonderful example of a dessert where fresh berries make a difference. The berries hold their shape during baking and, though there are a lot of berries in every slice, the berries are still distinct from the ricotta custard that surrounds them. The result is a pie with a lot of texture and a lot of flavor that is perfect for springtime entertaining.
The filling is very simple and only requires a few ingredients. Ricotta cheese makes up most of the base, lending a slightly tangy note and a cheesecake-like texture to the blueberry-packed pie. I added both lemon zest and vanilla extract to the mix, giving the pie a citrusy twist that contrasts well with the jammy berries. The custard is topped with a streusel mixture that gives the creamy filling a bit of crunch and adds a little more sweetness to the mix. Frankly, streusel makes any dessert more addictive and this pie is no exception.
The crust is unbaked when the filling goes in for this recipe. The pie requires a short period at a high temperature, followed by a long period of baking at a low temperature. The crust should bake up nicely in this time. That being said, some store-bought pie crust doughs are a little bit thicker than homemade crusts, so don’t hesitate to roll out your crust to make it a touch thinner if you’re worried that it won’t bake in time. The filling, though it is a custard, is not overly wet when it goes into the pie filling, which is less likely to lead to a soggy bottom crust during baking.
The pie is best when it has been chilled after baking, so be sure to allow plenty of time to refrigerate the pie before you intend to serve it. The pie keeps extremely well for several days after baking, but it has such a light texture that you’ll probably cut it into generous slices and find that you eat your way through it quickly!
Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pie
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
Unbaked 9-inch pie crust (recipe below)
1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
16-oz fresh blueberries
1 tbsp lemon zest
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a small bowl, make the crumble. Stir together all dry ingredients, then cut the butter in using a fork until mixture is sandy and no large piece of butter remain. Pick up the crumble mixture and squeeze it in your hand to form small clumps, repeating until streusel appears to have a much coarser texture. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, sugar and cornstarch until well combined. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and salt. Fold in blueberries and lemon zest.
Pour into prepared, unbaked 9-inch pie crust. Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly over the top of the pie.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then turn the oven temperature down (without opening the oven) to 350F and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the crust and crumble topping are golden brown and the custard is set when you gently shake the pan.
Allow pie to cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until well-chilled, before serving.
All Butter Single Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into pieces
4-6 tbsp ice water
Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips, pressing it into the flour mixture and breaking it up, until mixture resemble very coarse sand and no pieces larger than a large pea remain. Using a fork, stir in ice water until dough almost comes together into a ball. Press dough into a ball with your hands and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 30-60 minutes before rolling.
Place unwrapped dough onto a lightly floured surface and press into a disc. Roll out until it is a circle about 11-inches in diameter. Hold your pie plate over the dough to ensure that there is enough overhang to cover the sides of the pie dish. Carefully roll dough around your rolling pin and unroll it into the pie plate. Press dough gently into the dish; do not stretch the dough.
Chill crust for 30 minutes before using to prevent the dough from shrinking during baking.