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Vegan ricotta pie is an easy recipe made with few simple ingredients. We make a sweet vegan shortcrust pastry as the base for the pie. We then fill it with a creamy, sweet, aromatic ricotta cream, mixed with dark chocolate chips and orange zest.
This vegan ricotta pie is our favourite pie ever. Its taste will bring you straight to southern Italy. It's sweet, chocolatey, creamy, almost like a baked cheesecake, with a soft crumbly crust.
Like with all of our recipes, we strive to recreate the real authentic Italian flavours I grew up with in Italy, using only plant-based ingredients. And so, the best way to make this vegan ricotta pie as delicious and authentic like the original Italian one is to use a home-made soy ricotta.
Making ricotta at home is actually super simple, and you only need to ingredients to do so: soy milk and vinegar or lemon juice. It will only take you about 30 minutes to make the best vegan ricotta you have ever had. Here is our guide on how to make vegan ricotta at home without nuts and without blender.
Ingredients & Substitutions
For the vegan crust
- Flour: you can use all-purpose flour, bread flour, whole-wheat flour, first-clear flour, spelt flour, oat flour and even flour made with your own blended oats. We tested this recipe with all of these flours and our favourites are first-clear flour and whole-wheat flour. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, simply substitute wheat flour for a gluten free flour.
- Sugar: we use plain white sugar. You can replace it with any other sugar in granular form, like coconut sugar, cane sugar, etc. Just keep in mind that if you do so, the flavour and texture of the crust will change depending on the sugar you use. If you want to stay as close as possible to the original Italian flavour, then use plain white sugar.
- Oil: we use refined sunflower oil because it doesn't have any taste. You can replace it with any other vegetable oil, but be mindful of the taste of the oil.
- Water: plain water works best to give a light, crumbly, slightly crunchy texture to this vegan shortcrust pastry. We also tried with soy milk and almond milk, but we prefer to use water because the milks make the base to heavy and biscuity.
- Orange zest: I find this to be very important in the crust to make it fresher, more aromatic, and to connect the flavour of the crust to that of the filling.
- Baking powder: since we are not using eggs or butter, we will need some baking powder to make the crust slightly crumbly and friable.
For the ricotta filling
- Vegan Ricotta: follow our recipe to make vegan ricotta without nuts and without a blender. You will only need soy milk and vinegar (white vinegar, apple cider vinegar) or lemon juice. Make sure you drain the ricotta well or your crust will be soggy.
- Dark chocolate chips: their flavour is so perfect with the ricotta. Mini dark chocolate chips are best.
- Sugar: here too we believe that plain sugar is best. You can of course replace it with any sweetener of choice.
- Orange zest: orange zest, ricotta and chocolate are the perfect combination of flavour. Without orange zest this vegan ricotta pie will not be the same.
- Vanilla: this is optional, but we like to add some vanilla extract, or some real vanilla if you have some, to the filling.
- Pie dish: best if with removable bottom. We used one that is 10 inches (26 cm). Any between 9 and 10 inches will work.
- Rolling pin: to roll the crust
- Sieve and a clean kitchen cloth, or muslin cloth, or cheese cloth, to filter the soy milk for the ricotta. More info in our vegan ricotta recipe blog post.
- Mix the liquids first: the first step of making the crust should be to mix the liquids first with sugar and the orange zest. With a spatula, stir the ingredients together for a couple of minutes so that the orange zest will release the orange aroma in the liquid. This way the crust will be super aromatic with very little effort.
- Sift or mix the flour with the baking powder: since we are not kneading the dough a lot, it is important to evenly distribute the baking powder with the flour, before we add it to the wet ingredients. To do so, you can either sift the baking powder with the flour while you add it to the liquids, or mix the baking powder and the flour in a bowl, before adding them to the liquids.
- Don't knead the dough too much: the best thing about this vegan shortcrust pastry is that you don't have to really knead it a lot. Actually, you should avoid kneading it for more that a minute. You just have to bring all the ingredients together, give it a quick knead with your hands, and that's it.
If you knead it too much, you will develop the gluten network in the flour. A develop gluten network will make the crust of the ricotta pie very gummy and elastic, and not nice to eat. So try to keep kneading to a minimum if you want a soft, friable crust that melts in your mouth.
- Bake on the mid-lower oven rack: bake the cake on the mid-lower part of your oven. Not the lowest rack, but the below the middle one. This way the bottom of the cake, which is the thickest part, will cook perfectly, and the top will not burn.
Mistakes I made
- I undercooked the pie: the first time I made this vegan ricotta pie, I only baked it for 40 minutes thinking it was enough. But actually, in the following tests, we noticed that baking it for 45 minutes produces a better, more aromatic pie. Of course every oven is different, but as a general rule, the strips of crust on top should be golden.
- I did not let it cool long enough: I beg you to wait a few hours before eating this pie. I know it's super hard, but both the texture and the flavour of this vegan ricotta pie will be a lot better if you wait at least 3 hours before eating it.
Frequently asked questions
We think tofu produces a different result, but if you really don't want to make your own soy ricotta at home, then your best alternative is to replace it with plain soft tofu. To do that, make sure you drain the tofu well first, or else your crust will be soggy. Then put the tofu in a blender, with the sugar, orange zest, and vanilla aroma, and blend. Transfer into a bowl and mix in the dark chocolate chips.
Yes, absolutely! We always do that. You can make the ricotta up to 5 days in advance as it keeps perfectly in the refrigerator.
Absolutely NOT. You cannot tell that this vegan ricotta pie has "fake" ricotta in it, made out of soy. If you follow our instructions and measurements you'll get the best ricotta pie you've ever had.
The base/crust should be soft, but should NOT be soggy. If it's soggy is because you have not drained the ricotta well enough.
Does ricotta pie need to be refrigerated?
No. You can store this vegan ricotta pie on your kitchen counter for up to 5 days, best if covered with a cloth, or stored in a cake keeper. If where you live is very hot, that is above above 30C or 90F, then you might want to put it in the refrigerator.
Can I freeze it?
We do not recommend freezing the whole ricotta pie. You can freeze the shortcrust pastry for up to 3 months.
Can I make it in advance?
Yes. You can make the vegan ricotta up to 5 days in advance and store in the refrigerator, in a bowl covered with a lid, or airtight container.
I would also advice to make this pie at least 3 hours before serving it, but better if you make it half a day in advance, or the night before serving it.
- Liqueur ricotta pie: in some parts of Italy they add orange flavoured liqueur called Grand Marnier to the ricotta filling. You can add 2 to 3 tbsp of it if you like. Alternatively you can use any other liqueur with an orange, or fruity aroma. Some liqueurs might not be vegan friendly, Grand Marnier generally is vegan friendly.
- Cinnamon ricotta pie: if you are making this pie in winter, or during winter holiday season, then adding a tsp or two of cinnamon to the filling will make this vegan ricotta pie wintery and cozy. You can also sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
Vegan Ricotta Pie
- Pie dish 9 to 10 inches (24 to 26cm) easiest if with removable base.
- Rolling pin
- Zester or grater
- Sieve and clean kitchen cloth or cheese cloth to make the ricotta
For the shortcrust pastry
- 350 g (2.4 cups) flour + 1 tbsp for kneading and rolling
- 100 g (0.5 cups) sugar
- 70 g (0.3 cups) water
- 70 g (0.3 cups) vegetable oil
- 8 g (0.5 tbsp) baking powder
- 1 orange the grated zest
For the ricotta filling
- 650 g (23 oz) vegan ricotta
- 80 g (0.4 cups) sugar
- 70 g (0.4 cups) dark chocolate chips mini
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 orange the grated zest
- Preheat the oven to 360F or 180C. In a bowl, add the sugar, water, oil, orange zest and mix with a spatula. Sift in the flour and baking powder all at once , then with the same spatula mix all the ingredients until they almost come together.
- Transfer the dough to a worktop and knead with your hands for max 1 minute, just long enough to bring everything together into a smooth ball. Do not knead too much. Add a little flour if the dough seems too sticky.Sprinkle the worktop with flour, then with a rolling pin roll out ¾ of the dough into a 4 mm thin disk.
- Oil the pie dish and dust it with flour, then transfer the dough into it and fit it snuggly pushing with your fingers. Cut off the excess dough and poke holes in the bottom and sides with a fork.
- Make the filling: in a bowl mix together vegan ricotta, grated orange zest, sugar, vanilla extract and dark chocolate chips. You can use a spatula or an electric beater. Fill the pie with the ricotta filling and spread evenly with a spoon.
- Roll out the leftover dough thinly (thinner than the base) then with a knife cut 10 strips and place them on top of the tart. 5 in one direction, the other 5 in the opposite direction.
- Bake at 360F or 180C for 45 minutes. Baking time may vary depending on your oven and the thickness of the crust. Let cool completely (at least 3 hours) before serving. You can sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like.
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