lurking in my refrigerator are many different flours and for the crust, i chose semolina-after all, this is inspired by italian cheesecakes and the sandy texture of semolina seemed like a good choice. the dough is a little sweet due to a generous addition of brown sugar which also helps give the dough some extra color.
lattice topped ricotta cheesecake with rhubarb compote
makes 1 (9") serving 8-10
makes enough dough for two 9" tart shells or one tart shell with a lattice top
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening (i used spectrum brand mechanically pressed organic palm oil-non hydrogenated shortening)
4-5 tablespoons cold water
place the flours in a bowl with the brown sugar and the salt. using your fingers, rub the mixture together to completely incorporate the brown sugar. using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingers, cut in the shortening until it is in small peas sized pieces. add the water, first the 4 tablespoons, and mix until it comes together and forms a soft dough. add the extra tablespoon of water slowly and only if needed. form the dough into a thick disk, wrap it in plastic and chill for several hours. can be made 2-3 days ahead.
to make the tart shell, allow the dough to soften a bit at room temperature. it should be soft enough that it yields to gentle pressure. grease a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom and place it on a sturdy baking sheet. preheat the oven to 325. take a piece of dough that is slightly less than half of the disk and form it into a round patty. on a floured surface, roll out the dough so that it is larger than the pan; it will need about 2 inches of surplus around the entire pan. carefully place the dough in the pan and referring to the photo above, fold the extra dough in to make the sides a double thickness. line the tart shell with a piece of parchment or coffee filters and fill it with weights. prebake the crust until it is no longer shiny and translucent on the bottom but it should not have gained much color, about 20 minutes. for more hints on prebaking pie shells, refer to this previous post. while the crust bakes, mix the filling. pour the filling into the prebaked pie shell and top it with lattice strips if desired. bake the tart on the sheet pan at 325 for about 325 until it is firm and the top crust has baked, about 50 minutes. chill the tart before serving. cut into edges and serve with a dollop of the rhubarb compote.
ricotta cheesecake filling
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon-2 teaspoons total
seeds from half of a vanilla bean, reserve the pod for the compote
1 (15oz) container of part skim ricotta (i chose this because it was the only one without additives)
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup heavy cream
in a bowl, rub the sugar with the flour, zests and vanilla beans until it is all combined and the vanilla beans are dispersed evenly. using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the ricotta and blend it well. whisk in the eggs and the yolks, scrape the bowl well and carefully whisk in the cream. it is a custard filling and is best not to add too much volume so only whisk to combine.
makes about 2 cups
2 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/2" thick (i used frozen rhubarb which is sold with the frozen fruit in the supermarket where i shop) if using frozen, allow it to thaw and include the juices that collect.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 star anise pod
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and slowly simmer until the rhubarb begins to break up and it turns a light rosy shade. remove the vanilla pod and the star anise pod and chill completely before serving.