A Tourte of Ricotta with Elderflowers & Other Things

The combination of ginger, pine nuts and elderflower as flavorings for a creamy, nutty cheesecake combines a dish most people enjoy - cheesecake - with just enough of a new flavor to intrigue.

Introduction:

This was, perhaps, the most successful dish of the Taming of the Shrew event. The combination of ginger, pine nuts and elderflower as flavorings for a creamy, nutty cheesecake combines a dish most people enjoy – cheesecake – with just enough of a new flavor to intrigue.

Scappi Book V, Recipe 77

To prepare a tourte of ricotta with elderflowers and other things: Get six ounces of pinenut paste ground in a mortar with two pounds of fresh ricotta of ewe’s or cow’s milk, adding in eight fresh egg whites, a pound of sugar and .75 ounces of white ginger. When everything in ground up, put it through a colander. Into that put three ounces of elderflower that has soaked in goat’s or cow’s milk. Make a tourte of that filling, covering it with a sheet of pastry made like shutter slates, and bake it like the ones above, with a glazing of sugar and rosewater. You could also put some softened pinenuts into the filling, and creamy cheese with a bit of salt in it. And you could bake it without a pastry shell, having prepared the tourte pan though with very hot melted butter before the filling is put in. It is baked in the oven with its sugar and rosewater glazing. Serve it hot or cold as you wish. If you want it to be colored, put in eggs, both yolk , and white, and instead of ginger, cinnamon.

Discussion

  • I chose to use a mixture of ricotta and cream cheese, along with ground pine nuts, for the base filling.
  • I wasn’t able to source elderflowers, so instead I used a modern elderflower liquer (St. Germain) as the source of that flavor.
  • Modernly, cheesecakes aren’t often cooked in traditional pastry rather than a crumb-and-butter crust, nor with a top pastry – I think in this case, having some additional pastry on top helped the filling cook more slowly and evenly.
  • Commercial pie crust was used for this recipe during the feast although I was disappointed to find that my preferred brand had switched to a lard-based recipe so I couldn’t use it for this dish. Caveat emptor! 

A Tourte of Ricotta with Elderflowers and Other Things

Ingredients

  • 2 oz pine nuts

  • 3 oz sugar

  • .25 oz fresh gInger

  • 6 oz ricotta cheese (drained if needed)

  • 2.5 oz cream cheese

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 oz elderflower liqueur (St. Germain’s or equivalent)

  • 1 tsp salt (kosher, I use Morton’s, adjust for other brands to taste)

  • Top and bottom pie crusts

Directions

  • Peel ginger and place in food processor with pine nuts and sugar. Puree.
  • Add eggs, cheeses, liqueur, puree until very smooth.
  • Put bottom crusts in each pie pan, prick with fork to avoid puffing..
  • Pour in filling.
  • Place decorative pie crust pieces & pine nuts carefully onto filling to form pattern. Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Cover. First I rolled out a 2nd crust and placed it on top of the pie, touching the fruit. Since the fruit is fully cooked, the crust does not need to be pierced to prevent bubbling over. I then carefully trimmed the overhang and rolled the edges decoratively.
  • Bake @ 350 for 30-40 min. It should have a lightly browned top and be reasonably solid, although if it’s still a little jiggly in the center it will set as it cools.

Sources:

Scappi, Bartolomeo. Opera di M. Bartolomeo Scappi, cuoco secreto di Papa Pio V diuisa in sei libri... apresso Michele Tramezzino, 1570, http://books.google.com/books?id=9VCtiKCegTUC&dq=Opera%20di%20M.%20Bartolomeo%20Scappi%2C%20cuoco%20segreto%20di%20Papa%20Pio%20V&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false.
Scappi, Bartolomeo, and Terence Scully. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’Arte Et Prudenza D’Un Maestro Cuoco. University of Toronto Press, 2008.
Smithson, Louise. “Renaissance Italian Pastries.” Home Page of Helewyse de Birkestad, 1 Apr. 2008, http://www.medievalcookery.com/helewyse/renaissance_pastries.html.
Smithson, Louise. “Harvest Days 2007 TOC Feast.” Home Page of Helewyse de Birkestad, 8 Sept. 2007, http://www.medievalcookery.com/helewyse/Harvest_Days.html.

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