Buy your ricotta from a large, fresh round, rather than in a supermarket packet, and you’ll fall in love with its sweet, innocent freshness. Serve it in its natural state as you see it here if you’re feeling non-interventionist, but it is especially delicious when eaten warm from the oven where it softens into a sort of heavenly, delicate dessert that tastes as if it took eighteen apprentices to make it.
Soak dried fruits and bay leaf overnight, in enough cold water to cover.
Transfer fruits and their soaking water to a saucepan, and add sugar, wine, cinnamon and vanilla bean, adding a little more water to cover if necessary. Cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft and liquid is syrupy.
Heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place ricotta in baking pan, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with white sugar, and bake for another 10 minutes until lightly golden on top (use an overhead grill for faster results, but keep an eye on it).
Serve a scoop of warm ricotta into each bowl and top with warm stewed fruits and a good spoonful of syrup.
© 1998 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.