Being Frugal with Ricotta, Part 2
After staying up late to witness last night’s historic presidential election, all you sleep heads might need a little pick-me-up today.
Look no further than these tantalizing Ricotta Biscuits with Dried Cherries, Apricots & Raspberries.
We refer to ricotta as cheese. But did you know that it’s really not? So says the must-have, go-to book, “The Food Lover’s Companion” (Barron’s) by the late Sharon Tyler Herbst and her husband, Ron Herbst.
Ricotta is technically not a cheese because it has neither a starter or rennet in it, the Herbsts state. Ricotta is actually reheated whey (the watery liquid that separates from the solids or curds when making cheese). When the whey is reheated, “protein particles rise to the surface, are skimmed off, strained, then placed in perforated molds or baskets to drain further.” The result is ricotta.
These fruit-studded biscuits were the perfect way to use up the last of my leftover ricotta. In my posting yesterday, as you recall, I raved about another baked good that put some of that remaining ricotta to good use.
The dough for these biscuits is very wet and loose. So much so that I needed a dough scraper to turn out and fold the “dough” as it called for in the directions. I also needed a spatula to lift the cut biscuits onto the baking pan. Either that or they would have stuck all over my hands. Yes, this dough is a mess to work with, but don’t let that discourage you from trying it.
These treats taste like biscuits and look like scones. They are not dessert-like sweet, but pleasantly sweet enough from the infusion of all the fruit. The recipe says it makes eight biscuits. It does if you want ones the size of individual meatloaves. Personally, I think you can make 16 biscuits out of this, easily. Freeze some to enjoy with coffee or tea for breakfast another time. As winter approaches, you’ll be so glad you have a stash of these hearty babies tucked away.
Ricotta Biscuits with Dried Cherries, Apricots & Raspberries
(Makes 8 to 16 biscuits, depending on how super-sized you want them)
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsulfured dried apricots, diced
4 cups pastry flour (purchased, or make your own from the recipe that follows)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup buttermilk, plus extra for brushing on scones
1 cup fresh raspberries
Coarse raw sugar
Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place cherries and apricots in a medium bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 10 minutes, then drain well and set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt into a medium bowl. Toss with your hands to combine.
Cut butter into 1/4-inch pieces and drop into bowl of dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in butter until it’s evenly distributed and the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Add drained cherries and apricots, and mix with a wooden spoon.
In a separate medium bowl, combine ricotta and buttermilk, and mix well with a wooden spoon. Fold one third of ricotta mixture into bowl of dry ingredients, t en fold in another third. Add final third of ricotta mixture along with fresh raspberries and continue mixing just until ingredients are combined and dough starts coming together.
Pul dough from bowl onto a floured work surface. (You might need to use a dough scraper to work with the dough, as I did, rather than your hands.) Lightly coat your hands with flour and form dough into a 9-by-5-inch rectangle. Fold dough in half and press it down lightly with your fingertips (or dough scraper). Repeat this process two more times, gently kneading dough but not over-working it. Sprinkle a little more flour on the work surface and again form dough into a 9-by-5-inch rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Cut dough into 8 to 16 equal squares. Lift biscuits onto prepared baking sheet. (You might need to use a spatula to do this.)
Brush biscuits with buttermilk and sprinkle a little coarse sugar on top. Bake on center rack of oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.
(makes 4 cups)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
Sift flours into a medium bowl and toss until thoroughly mixed. Store in a dry, airtight container.