Baked Ricotta Cheese

 Baked Ricotta Cheese

Baked Ricotta Cheese

For  years I would seek out baked ricotta cheese at markets and gourmet super-markets, paying a premium for the nutty toasted flavour of the creamy cheese.  Then I read the label on the cheese and I got to thinking.  It is ricotta, and it is baked....  How hard can it be? Easy is the answer. 

Make these as gifts, for dinner parties or just to nibble on.  Baked Ricotta keeps well in the fridge and is well worth the effort of making.

I usually make this in 1kg lots, as it is just more economical to buy the big baskets of ricotta from the deli and bake them all at once in little cake  tins or loaf tins, so I have given quantities below for 1 kg.  It is easily scalable though for a smaller batch.  Low fat ricotta is fine for this, and makes a great alternative to heavy cheddar cheese as a lunchtime snack.

1 kg Ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup olive oil

Additional Flavourings if desired – rosemary, garlic, pepper, lemon zest, chilli

For a sweet version – add raisins or currants with lemon zest and add a tiny amount of icing sugar to the cheese when piercing with the skewer.

Pre-heat oven to 220°C

Prepare your tin well with oil, ensuring there is about 2 tablespoons of oil at the bottom of the tin.

Press cheese down into the tin well, allowing the oil to rise up around the edged.

Using a skewer, prick holes into the cheese and sprinkle over a little salt.  If adding flavourings, add at this stage, pressing the flavourings (rosemary springs, chilli pieces, lemon zest etc) down into the cheese.

Press the cheese down again, allowing the oil to ooze over the surface of the cheese.  Place tins onto a baking tray to catch juices and the cheese cooks out.

Cook in a hot oven for at least an hour, or until the tops of the cheese are deep golden brown.  Allow to cool completely in tin before removing.

Serve chilled as part of a cheese platter, sandwich filling or as an addition to a light lunch.