This Italian Ricotta Rice pie epitomizes all that is good and comforting about Italian sweets. The lightly sweetened rice custard, made perfect with ricotta and egg yolks, stays creamy while the crust cradling it becomes tender and cake-like underneath. The aroma while cooking is absolutely intoxicating! Traditionally served on Easter Sunday, it should really be enjoyed year round. We will let you in on a little secret too, this pie is even better after being refrigerated overnight!
Combine milk and rice in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add salt, vanilla bean and lemon peel. Stir. Once the milk begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and stir occasionally until the milk is absorbed; about 8 minutes, uncovered. Stir constantly toward the end of this time to prevent the milk from scorching. The rice should be cooked but still firm as it will continue to cook in the oven. Remove lemon peel and vanilla bean. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350℉/175℃. Position rack to middle. Spray a 9½-inch spring form pan with non-stick spray (can also use parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan) and set aside.
To make the crust:
Beat eggs with hand held beater or whisk. Add sugar, oil, lemon zest and whisk until frothy and light. Sift flour and baking powder together and add to egg mixture. Whisk together. Spread mixture at the bottom of pan and set aside.
To make the filling:
In a large mixing bowl (of stand mixer), with whisk attachment, beat the eggs until light and frothy. Can also use a hand held blender or whisk. Gradually whisk in the sugar. Beat for 1-2 minutes. Add ricotta, zests and cinnamon. Whisk until incorporated (about 1 minute). With a mixing spoon, gently combine the rice mixture, breaking up any clumps of rice. Pour into pie plate (over unbaked crust). Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until golden and top bounces back when lightly touched. Allow to cool completely. Can be served warm or cold. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
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