This Sicilian Cheesecake is so rich, smooth and luscious but also so easy to make. Creamy ricotta cheese mixed with the bright citrus of orange and lemon zest. This unique cheese cake is light, airy, and creamy with the perfect hint of orange and lemon. The best part? there is no fancy water bath needed! Just simple and delicious!
So this recipe comes from my Italian roots and is otherwise called an Italian cheesecake. Unlike an American cheesecake it uses ricotta cheese instead of cream cheese. Now I love a traditional American cheesecake as much as the next person, but there is something to be said about this Italian twist. The use of ricotta cheese creates a much more light and airy texture whereas cream cheese is usually more dense and rich. Both are delicious but also very different. I personally appreciate a lighter version after a heavy meal.
Sicilian cheesecakes also traditionally do not have a graham cracker crust. The cake itself holds more on its own so it really doesn't need it and I personally do not think that crust goes well with this kind of cheesecake. This cheesecake is really meant more to highlight just the ricotta cheese and the citrus, which leads me to my next point.... it is less sweet than an American cheesecake. Now personally I love this. If you add too much sugar you will just cover up the delicate flavors of the light and airy ricotta. We add just enough sugar to balance out the dessert but not enough for it to taste "sweet". Now you can play around with this and add more sugar if you really only love sweet desserts but trust me there is a reason and I know you will love it.
One of the MOST IMPORTANT steps is to drain your ricotta. Ricotta can be a very watery cheese and if you don't drain it your cheesecake will be too watery and wont set correctly. So there are two ways to do this: you can drain it overnight or just wring it out by hand, which is what I find to be the most productive way. So I simply get a cheese cloth, place my cheese inside and wring it out like a wet towel. I do so for probably a good 30 minutes or until I can no longer squeeze any liquid out. As you can see above you end up with a lot of milk residue that you just discard and a more crumbly drier cheese. Now you are ready to start baking.
Since the flavor of this Sicilian cheesecake is simply the silky ricotta cheese the only other accent flavor I add is high quality vanilla and the zest from 2 oranges and 2 lemons. You need two of each to really appreciate the flavor.
After you mix everything together its time to bake your cake. I use a spring form pan because it is easier to get your cake out of it and serve. I like to butter and flour my spring form pan since I don't have a crust. But the best part is that I don't need a water bath! For a Sicilian cheesecake you don't need one, it will just slow down your cook time and separate your batter. So Instead I bake mine just as is..... BUT that doesn't mean the baking is completely easy. You still don't want your cheesecake to crack, so there are a few different tricks. First you place your cheesecake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the center is no longer giggly. Then you turn the oven off BUT don't remove your cheesecake. Let your cake cool in the oven while the temperature goes down for about 30 minutes. Then take your cheesecake out and let it cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours. Then place your cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours to over night before serving cold. This slow and steady change in temperature is what prevents the top of your cheesecake from cracking. So its a supper important step!
After your cheesecake is completely cooled, serve cold and enjoy the silky, creamy, citrusy, light and airy cake. I promise you you will love it. And I am pretty sure my Italian grandma would approve 😉
Lastly, if you try out this Sicilian Cheesecake recipe, be sure to leave a comment/rating on how they turned out. I love hearing from you guys and will try my best to reply to every comment! And don't forget to tag me on Instagram!
- 4 lbs ricotta cheese
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- zest from 2 oranges
- zest from 2 lemons
- 1 ½ tblsp vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cheese cloth
- Start by draining your ricotta cheese. Place your cheese in your cheese cloth and wring it out like a wet towel for about 30 minutes or until there is no more liquid left. You can throw away the excess milk and your cheese should now be more crumbly and drier.
- In a large bowl combine your cheese, eggs, sugar, flour, zest, vanilla, and salt.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour your spring form pan. Pour your batter in the pan.
- No water bath is needed!
- Bake for 1hr and 15 minutes- 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.
- Then turn off your oven but do not take your cake out. Let your cake cool down as the temperature of the oven cools down for about 30 more minutes.
- Take your cake out and let it sit at room temperature for about 4 hours or until it is completely cooled. Then place in the fridge over night. This will help prevent your cake from cracking.
- Serve cold and enjoy!