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side view of Italian rice pie on white plate with fork
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Italian rice pie

This rice pie with lemon is a traditional Italian pie that is served at Easter in the Naples region of Italy. If you like rice pudding and you like lemon, you've gotta try this pie!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 14 slices
Calories 377kcal
Author Marie

Equipment

  • 8 inch cake pan

Ingredients

For the crust (makes enough for top and bottom crust or a total of ~650 grams/23 ounces)

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes or slices, not melted
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon from 1 small lemon (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs large

For the pie filling

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup rice I prefer short (arborio) or medium grain rice
  • 1 lemon peel yellow part only (minimize pith [the white part])
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese firm (drain over cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer if too wet)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest from 1 medium lemon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • tsp cinnamon optional but highly suggested

To Bake the Pie

  • egg wash (one egg with a splash of milk, beaten with fork)
  • sugar to sprinkle on top if using top crust

To Serve/Decorate

  • powdered sugar to decorate top of pie

Instructions

For Best Results

  • Read through all directions before starting!

To make the pie crust

  • In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and cubed butter. Using your hands, cut/squeeze the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse sand
  • In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and then pour into the dry sandlike mixture and stir until all of the egg has been incorporated
  • Press down and form into a dough and then turn out onto counter and knead a few times until there are no dry bits remaining.
  • Form into 2 flat disk shapes, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour (this makes enough for 2 pies, so you can opt to use the extra to decorate the top, or save for another pie).
  • I like a thicker crust so I split the dough unevenly; that is, I use about 60% for the bottom and 40% for the top crust - no need to be too accurate just "eyeball" it when you divide the dough.
  • Butter and flour an 8-inch pan. After the dough has chilled, roll it into a circle that is about 12 to 13 inches wide and then carefully transfer it over to the prepared pan and line it with the dough. Use PLENTY of flour under and on top of dough before and while rolling and also on your rolling pin. Return dough to fridge if it gets too warm or sticky.
  • If the dough falls apart you can simply pinch it back together in the pan. Use plenty of flour on both sides of the dough when you are rolling out the dough to prevent sticking
  • After you line the pan with the dough, you can freeze the pan with crust for an hour or so or place in fridge for at least an hour or overnight. This helps to prevent shrinkage.
  • If you want to top the pie with pie crust lattice, roll out the crust using plenty of flour on both sides and the rolling pin, and cut into strips. Place strips on baking sheet or dish and chill until ready to use.

To prepare the filling

  • Begin by adding the rice, milk, and lemon peel to a gentle boil over medium low heat. You MUST stir often or the mixture will definitely stick to the bottom of the pan!!
  • After the rice has begun to slightly bubble, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until most of the milk has absorbed (it's okay if rice is a bit undercooked as it will keep cooking in the oven). Set aside to cool
  • You can also bring to small gentle boil for 2 or 3 minutes, cover, and then remove from heat and let the rice absorb all the liquid for about 30 minutes or so.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, sugar, eggs, grated lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy (I mixed by hand using a whisk)
  • Once the rice mixture is cooled (to the point where it won't cook the egg in the ricotta mixture), add it to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine.

To bake the pie

  • Use the prepared pie shell from earlier step and price the dough several times all over with a fork
  • Pour the rice-ricotta filling mixture into the pie shell 
  • If using top crust, top with second pie crust or the lattice strips and top the pie. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle sugar.
  • Place the pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F on the center rack until the filling is set (about 50 to 60 minutes).
  • Check the pie about 20 minutes and 10 minutes before finished and if crust is browning too much, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top very loosely.

To Decorate

  • Once pie is cooled, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.

Storing and Eating

  • Cool pie completely before eating and store in the refrigerator. Pie is best enjoyed at room temperature (otherwise, rice tends to harden too much).

Notes

Tips for Pie Crust: 
  • After making the crust and before refrigerating, it helps to gently shape the crust into a large flat circle. I place on parchment and slide it into a plastic bag for at least an hour. 
  • Roll out pie dough using plenty of flour on both sides! Flour the rolling pin as well. Turn the pie crust as you roll to ensure it's not sticking. 
  • Place parchment paper under crust when rolling to help and use flour under and on top of crust to roll (can't stress that enough). 
  • Turn the pie crust after rolling 2 to 3 times to ensure it doesn't stick.
  • To transfer the pie crust to the pan, roll it gently around your rolling pin. 
  • If the dough breaks or falls apart, it can easily be pieced back together in the pan - just press it back into shape. 
  • Check the pie 20 minutes and 10 minutes before finished time; you may need to place a sheet of aluminum foil on top to prevent over browning. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 177mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 541IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 144mg | Iron: 2mg