Ricotta cheese tart リコッタチーズのタルト

japanese cake

I know I keep deviating from my theme. Some Izakayas serve non-transitional small dishes such as German potatoes (now this has become a classic Izakaya “teiban” dish), Poutine-like French fries and cheese dish, taco, and even variations of pizza. We saw pizza in the menu at one of the rather inexpensive chain Izakayas last time when we were in Japan. We refuse to order pizza at an Izakaya, though.  Although there are many “excellent” pizza places in our neck-of-the-woods, we are partial to my home-made pizza. (Certainly, my pizza is much better than any chain Pizzaria pizzas and we usually make pizzas without much sauce and without meat unlike American Pizzas which usually have too much cheese, too much meat and too much tomato sauce). I promise I will post some of my pizzas which are not bad at all for a home-made pizza (this is called “Jiman” 自慢 which literally means “boast” or “self-praise” but it is with some sense of “pride” such as in the name of sake “Isojiman” 磯自慢 which means both “Pride of shore” and “Beach boast”.)

I was somehow coerced (which is not a right word but can’t think of an alternative) into making this dish “Ricotta Cheese tart” using my pizza crust. We found this to be very good and can be reheated very nicely in a toaster oven. We recently served this as a starter with champagne when we had friends over and it went very well.

Pizza dough: There is nothing unusual about my pizza dough. For 4 pizzas (about 8 inch), I add bread flour* (3 1/2 cups) and salt (1 tsp) in a food processor with a dough blade. While the food processor in running at a low speed, I stream in olive oil (2 tbs) and stop after few seconds. I proof one package of active yeast in a small amount of tepid water (1/5 cup) with just a pinch of sugar dissolved. Once proofed, I add cold water to make it one cup. Stream the yeast mixture into the tube of the food processor with the blade running at a low speed until a ball is formed above the blade. You probably will need a few more tbs of water. Open the food processor and touch the dough. It should be rather soft and slightly tacky. I let the dough sit in the processor for 5 minutes so that the moisture will distribute more evenly and then, run the blade for 30 more seconds. The dough should be soft, elastic and somewhat tacky. Take it out on a floured kneading board and hand knead for 2-3 minutes until dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky. For raising the dough, instead of using a bowl, I use one gallon Ziploc bag which is sprayed with PAM or a similar non-stick spray and wrap it with towels in a warm non-drafty place (on the center island counter top in my case) for 2 hours or more until the volume doubles.

(*Sometimes, I use King Arthur brand double zero (“00”) Italian flour. This flour has much less gluten and makes a delicate dough which can not be tossed into the air. The resulting crust is thin, crisp and cracker-like probably similar to this one.)

After the volume doubles, I deflate and fold the dough several times I then cut the dough into 4 equal portions and make them into 4 nice smooth disks by pinching the cut surface together and stretching the surface to make a round ball. I, then, press lightly to make a disk. The portions I’m do not going to use immediately, I put it into a Ziploc sandwich bag and place in the refrigerator (will last at least overnight or more, which even adds more favor but, after that, you need to freeze the dough. The dough freezes well but the characteristic of the resulting crusts change a bit–the previously frozen dough will yield less bready and crunchier pizza crusts). Let the dough ball rest for 10-15 minutes by covering with a floured tea towel (otherwise the dough will be too elastic and resist stretching).  I never use a rolling pin to form pizza dough but use the traditional way of stretching the dough using the back of the knuckle of the hands (I will even toss the dough into the air if our guests request it.) For a regular pizza, I do not crimp the edge but, for this tart, I did crimp the edge as seen below since the filling is rather runny. You need to have corn meal on the pizza peel before placing the formed dough on the peel. Then give the peel several sharp tugs to make sure the dough slides nicely before filling the dough.

Filling: I mixed Ricotta cheese (1 cup), large eggs (2), chive (fine chopped, 1/2 cup), shallot (one finely chopped), dill (1/2 tsp dried since I did not have fresh one), salt (1/2 tsp) and black pepper (1/4 tsp). This filling made two 8 inch tarts (see below).

Baking: I had my convection oven set at 450F with a Pizza stone* in and preheated for, at least,  30 minutes before sliding the filled tart directly onto the hot pizza stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the surface of the filling becomes slightly brown.

(* I have a square pizza stone almost the size of the inside of my oven. I keep it (almost) permanently in the lowest rack. It is essential to have a pizza stone to make a nice crust.)

I took it out on to the cooling rack and graded Riggiano-Parmigiano cheese. I cut the tart into 4 wedges and served. The filling is nicely eggybready crust, this is a very good dish. This can be breakfast as well.

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