Italian Easter Pie
- For the crust:
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 tablespoons cold milk
- For the filling:
- 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese, drained well
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts or almonds
Make the pie crust by sifting the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening and, using your hands or a pastry blender, work the fat into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and vanilla and add to the crumb mixture. Work the mixture with your hands, adding only as much milk as is needed to form a dough. Work only until the dough just comes together; do not overwork. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other, and wrap both portions in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove the larger portion of dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Fit the dough into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch deep dish pie pan. Trim the edges so that an inch hangs over the sides and refrigerate. Roll out the second portion of dough to a thickness of 1/8-inch and transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, while preparing the filling.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the ricotta cheese with the sugar until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the orange zest, cinnamon, chocolate, and pine nuts and stir to combine.
Pour the filling into the pastry-lined pie pan. Using your fingers, lightly moisten the edges of the pastry with a bit of cool water. Place the second portion of pastry over the top of the pie and cut the edges to match those of the bottom crust. Press edges together then fold inward to make a raised edge. Crimp the edges decoratively using either your fingers, a fork, or a crimping tool. Make several small slits in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape while baking.
Bake the pie for 1 hour, or until the pastry is light golden brown and the filling is just set. If the edges of the pie begin to get too brown, shield them with a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around the pie.
When the pie is set, remove it from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve the pie either slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
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