This most typical Italian dessert is often served as an Easter specialty in southern Italy. The flavorings vary slightly according to the region and toasted slivered almonds, chopped chocolate and grated lemon and orange zest are sometimes included.

Makes one 12-inch tart

Pasta Frolla

3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, beaten

Ricotta Filling

3 pounds ricotta
1 cup sugar
8 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

One 12-inch cake pan, buttered

  1. For the Pasta Frolla, mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Rub butter in finely and stir in beaten eggs. Press dough together, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm.
  2. For the Ricotta Filling, beat ricotta by hand until smooth. Stir in sugar, then eggs, one at a time. Stir in remaining ingredients, reserving half the cinnamon for the top of the Torta, being careful not to overmix.
  3. Set rack on lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  4. To assemble, cut off 1/3 of the Pasta Frolla and reserve it. Roll the 2/3 of the dough into a 16-inch disk and line the prepared pan with it. Allow the dough to hang over the edge of the pan.
  5. Pour in the Ricotta Filling and sprinkle it with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
  6. Roll the remaining 1/3 of the dough into a rectangle and cut it into 10 1-inch wide strips. Paint the strips with beaten egg. Moisten the rim of the dough on the pan with the beaten egg, and adhere 5 strips in each direction, forming a diagonal lattice. Trim away any excess dough even with the top of the pan and push the dough all around off the top rim of the pan so that it is completely within the pan.
  7. Bake about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan before unmolding.