This elegant but easy dessert is a kind of dressed up version of Angelina’s humble pizza dolce. The basic recipe for this ‘pudding’ calls for just ricotta, eggs and sugar, and it’s perfectly delicious at its simplest. But, if you like, you can add various the fillings and toppings according to the season and your whim. Let your creativity run wild!
Enough to make 6 individual servings or one large pudding
- 500g (1 lb.) ricotta cheese
- 100g (3-1/2 oz.) caster sugar
- 3 whole eggs plus one egg yolk
- 1 heaping spoonful of flour (optional)
Optional fillings and flavorings:
- A drizzle of rum, sambuca or other liqueur
- Candied fruit
- Chocolate chips
- Almonds, peeled and crushed in mortar
- Powdered sugar
- Chocolate shavings
- Ciliegie sciroppate (Cherries in brandy)
- Strawberry coulis (see below)
If your ricotta is a bit lumpy or runny, let it drain for a good 20 minutes in a sieve and then press it through the sieve.
Separate the 3 eggs, adding the yolks to the ricotta and reserving the whites. Add the extra yolk to the ricotta along with the sugar and (if using) flour. Mix all these ingredients together until well amalgamated. If using, add one or more of the optional fillings and flavorings to the ricotta mixture, incorporating them very well.
Whip the egg whites until they are quite fluffy and stiff. The whites should retain its shape and stand up by themselves like this:
Now add the whipped whites to the ricotta mixture. Fold the whites very gently into the mixture with a spatula, scooping the mixture from the bottom in a circular motion like so:
until you have a homogenous, fluffy mass like this:
Now grease the inside of a large mold (or individual molds—see Notes below) with butter and add cover them in breadcrumbs, shaking the mold around so that the breadcrumbs adhere and cover the inside surface completely. Turn the mold over and shake out any excess breadcrumbs.
Now add the ricotta mixtures to the mold, making sure not to overfill it, as the mixture will expand considerably as it cooks.
Bake the mold in a moderate oven (180C/350F) until the mixture is set and browned at the edges, about 30 minutes for individual molds, 45-60 minutes for a single large mold.
Let the pudding cool completely. Unmold it by flipping it over onto a baking tray, like so:
Serve your budino, if you like, with one of the suggested toppings.
A lovely spring topping for this budino would be a strawberry purée, also known as a coulis. To make this purée, simply simmer together trimmed strawberries, sugar to taste and the juice of one lemon for about five minutes, until the berries are very soft.
Blend the strawberries until you have a perfectly smooth ‘sauce’.
Like many popular recipes, there are multiple variations you can try. The number of eggs varies enormously among recipes; Ada Boni, calls for only one egg and one extra yolk for this amount of ricotta, for example. Not all recipes call for whipping the eggs whites, which gives the pudding a firmer consistency. Not all recipes call for flour—Boni calls for a few spoonfuls of semolina flour, cooked with water into a thick paste. And, of course, the amount of sugar can vary according to your taste.
There are also different sizes and shapes of molds you can use for this recipe: A medium sized charlotte mold works well for a single budino, although you can use a loaf pan or bundt mold as well. For individual budini, you can use little ramekins; a muffin tray is quite convenient if you’re making a batch. Even easier, you can bake the budino in a pie plate or ceramic ramekins and serve it without unmolding.