Italian Easter tart


  • Serves 12 people

"This is a traditional tart eaten in Naples at Easter," says Ingram. "The legend goes that a mermaid called Parthenope in the Gulf of Napoli would sing to celebrate the arrival of spring each year. One year, to say thank you, the Neapolitans offered her gifts of ricotta, flour, eggs, wheat, perfumed orange flowers and spices. She took them to her kingdom under the sea, where the gods made them into a cake. I love to add nibs of chocolate to Parthenope cake because I think it marries nicely with the candied orange and sultanas, but, really, do you need an excuse to add chocolate to anything?" Start this recipe a day ahead to prepare the pastry and soak the sultanas.

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 25 gm caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 250 gm (1 2/3 cups) plain flour
  • 175 gm butter, diced and chilled
  • To serve: icing sugar, glacé clementines and glacé grapefruit
  • Ricotta filling
  • 60 gm sultanas
  • 2 tbsp Sicilian Marsala (see note)
  • 400 gm fresh firm ricotta (see note)
  • 80 gm caster sugar
  • 70 ml pouring cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 60 gm candied orange peel, finely chopped
  • 50 gm dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
01   Whisk yolks, egg, sugar and milk in a bowl. Pulse flour and butter in a food processor until butter forms lumps the size of small olives, then pulse as you add egg mixture to just form a dough (it should still be lumpy). Turn out onto work surface and smear the lumps of butter through the dough with the heel of your hand. Streaks of butter should remain visible, and the dough will be smooth and very soft. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight to rest and chill.
02   For ricotta filling, soak sultanas in Marsala overnight. Whisk ricotta and sugar in a mixer on medium speed until smooth (2-3 minutes). Whisk in cream, egg yolks, egg, vanilla and lemon rind until smooth and thick like double cream.
03   Roll pastry to 2mm thick on a lightly floured surface, then line a 28cm tart ring placed on a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving 3cm pastry overhanging. Refrigerate to rest for 1 hour, then trim overhang to 5mm with scissors.
04   Preheat oven to 150C. Blind-bake tart case until golden (8-10 minutes), then remove baking paper and weights, and bake until crisp (6-7 minutes). Remove from oven and reduce heat to 130C.
05   Half-fill tart case with ricotta mixture, scatter with candied peel, chocolate and drained sultanas, spoon over remaining ricotta mixture, smooth top then bake until slightly golden and centre springs back when pressed (15-20 minutes). Cool to room temperature, then dust with icing sugar, decorate with glacé fruit and serve. This tart can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Note Sicilian Marsala is available from Dan Murphy's and select bottle shops. Nadine Ingram prefers to use ricotta from cheesemakers Paesanella. It's available in Sydney from Paesanella's Haberfield store or Harris Farm.

Check out our Easter baking slideshow for more Easter recipes.

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