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Honey and Cheese Cake (Siphnopitta)

A Greek Easter specialty, especially renowned on the island of Siphnos. Myzithra, a soft, fresh, unsalted cheese made from sheep's milk, is used there, but ricotta cheese may be substituted.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled (2 sticks)
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (divided)

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Work the chilled butter into the flour mixture with your hands, or with short pulses if using a food processor. Gradually add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, just enough to make the dough hold together in a soft ball. Handle it no further, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Line a deep 10-inch pie pan with the dough by patting it out with your palm (it is easier than trying to roll out this rich dough).
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  6. Mix the cheese, eggs, honey (start with the lesser quantity and taste before you add more, as it might be too sweet for you), and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend well.
  7. Let the empty baked shell cool before filling. (If it is hot, it will disintegrate.)
  8. Pour the cheese mixture gently into the pastry base and bake for about 35 minutes, until it is firm and the top is golden.
  9. Dust with the remaining cinnamon and let the cake cool before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Source: The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden


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