Neapolitan Pastiera – Italian Easter Tart
2h 30 min
2h 10 min
Tipically Easter pie of Naples
Neapolitan Pastiera a italian easter tart
The Neapolitan pastiera or “a pizza cù grano”, as it is called in Cilento, is the queen of Easter tart in all of Campania. The crumbliness of the dough, the creaminess of the filling and the scent of the spices make this dessert a true delicacy that clearly stands out from all the others. The Neapolitan pastiera was born from the mastery of some nuns of San Gregorio Armeno, where, for the upcoming Easter, they thought of paying homage to the royals of Naples: Ferdinand II of Bourbon and Maria Teresa of Austria, with a dessert which, in addition to of Christ also represented his sacrifice and immortality.
Making use of the parable of the grain of wheat, where Jesus says: “Unless the grain of wheat dies it bears no fruit”, they boiled the wheat with milk which, mixed with sheep’s ricotta cheese, symbolized death, they represented the ointments of the sepulcher by flavoring the ingredients, with cinnamon and a thousand flowers, mixed everything with sugar and eggs, a symbol of life, and here is the resurrection. In the Neapolitan pastiera we therefore find rituals, taste, genius and mastery but, even if the impactful dessert may seem complicated, it is not difficult to elaborate it, also because the wheat is pre-cooked in all supermarkets and especially if you follow all the steps and advice from Nonna Claudia.
- 500 g flour 00
- 200 g butter
- 200 g sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 organic orange zest
- 250g/9oz jar of pre-cooked wheat
- 350g/12oz fresh ricotta cheese
- 250g/9oz sugar
- 100ml milk
- 5 whole eggs
- 25g/1oz suet or lard
- 100g/4oz candied citron & orange peel
- 10g/0,35oz cinnamon powder
- 15g/0,5oz vanilla powder
- 1 organic lemon zest
- 1 organic orange zest
- 1 vial of millefiori aroma
- j.e. flour for rolling out
- 70 g vanilla icing sugar
First we make the shortcrust pastry. On the pastry board, pour the flour and make the fountain*
Put the sugar in the fountain, break the eggs and grate the orange peel over all the flour
Take the butter at room temperature and cut it into small pieces on top of all the flour
Quickly mix all the ingredients, so that the dough does not overheat with the heat of your hands
Roll up the dough, then, mash it a little
Wrap the dough in a cloth and put it to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, otherwise 12 hours
While the shortcrust pastry is resting, pour the pre-cooked wheat, milk, half the sugar and lard into a large saucepan
Put the saucepan on the gas, add the previously washed lemon and orange peels and the candied fruit, cook for 15 minutes on a moderate heat, stirring frequently otherwise it will stick, turn off and let it cool
While the cream of wheat is cooling down, we separate 2 yolks from the white, put them in the planetary mixer, add the remaining whole eggs, the sugar and whip them into a cream, as if it were a sponge cake
In a large bowl, sieve the ricotta or mash it with a potato masher
Add the ricotta to the cleaned eggs, the cinnamon, the millefiori and the vanilla, then mix all the ingredients with your hands, incorporating the ricotta well into the eggs
When the cream of wheat is cold, put half of it in the blender, taking care to also take all the citrus peels and blend them, if you don’t like candied fruit, blend all the cream
Add all the wheat, blended or not, to the ricotta and egg mixture, mix all the ingredients well with your hands
Take the shortcrust pastry from the refrigerator, roll it out with a rolling pin until it reaches a uniform and rounded sheet with a maximum thickness of ½cm/0,2in
With the pastry, line a 26cm/10in pan, make it adhere well and cut off all the excess pastry that comes out of the edge
Prick the bottom of the pan with the prongs of the fork, pour the cream of wheat
Re-knead the shortcrust pastry, roll out with a rolling pin and make another sheet of ½cm/0,2in thickness, then, with the wheel, cut the sheet into strips about 1cm/0,4in wide
Take the strips of shortcrust pastry and place them diagonally on the cake, from left to right and vice versa, in this way diamonds will be formed which in jargon are called grids
Lower the edge of the shortcrust pastry, sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar the whole grill and the edges
Turn on the oven to 180°C/360°F, when ready, bake the cake and cook for 40 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160°C/320°F and continue cooking for another 20 minutes
Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then, with a slightly larger and rounder tray, turn the cake upside down, as if it were an omelette, let it stay upside down for 10 minutes, then turn it over with another tray and cool down
Before serving, the pastiera should be dusted with vanilla icing sugar
- To have an excellent shortcrust pastry, knead it the day before.
- When you roll out the dough, always flour it every time, otherwise it will stick.
- For excellent cooking of pastiera, always use a light aluminum pan, because it cooks better.
- The cooked wheat must be cold before placing it in the eggs.
- *sugna or lard is extracted from pork fat, if you want to make it at home, go and see the recipe on my website.
- *The fountain is the hole you make in the flour so that the liquid ingredients don’t come out.
- *Silicone spatula pot licker
- The pastiera can be kept for three to four days, always covered by a bell, otherwise it dries up, in a cool place at room temperature but, if it’s hot, it should be put in the fridge.
- Casserole (Pot)
- Wooden ladle
- Kitchen washer
- Rolling pin
- Pastry board
- Leccapentola *
- Planetary or mixer
- Crush potatoes or sieve
- 26cm pan
- 2 Bowls