The pastiera is the queen of Easter celebrations in the home of Neapolitans.
Created to wish good luck and prosperity, it is a very ancient dessert that probably dates back to remote pagan rites and has maintained its origin as a propitiatory food even with Christianity.
It is an irresistible, soft, enveloping, moist, fragrant dessert.
Even today, the preparation of the Neapolitan pastiera follows a real ritual.
Until a few years ago it was found only at Easter time; today many Neapolitan pastry shops always have a few examples on display all year round, ready to be devoured by even the greediest tourists.
Cooked wheat is the main ingredient along with eggs and ricotta cheese.
Making a good pastiera also requires a lot of patience and the perfect recipe, handed down from generation to generation.
Prep. Time: 90 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
FOR THE PASTA FROLLA
- 4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- powdered sugar for dusting
- 12 inch alluminum pan, buttered
FOR THE FILLING
- 2 cups of ricotta cheese
- 1+ 3/4 sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 lb+4 oz (580 grams) pre-cooked wheat
- 2/3 cup of milk
- 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
- 1 lemon rind
- 1 tbsp orange flower essence (or vanilla extract or dark rum)
- 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 oz candied orange (optional)
Make the Pasta Frolla:
In a medium bowl, make a well with flour and sugar.
Place all other ingredients in it.
Mix using your hands.
Shape the pasta frolla in a ball and cover with plastic wrap, place in refrigerator.
For step by step recipe: https://cookingitalians.com/crema-pasticcera-the-famous-italian-bakery-style-custard/
Make the Wheat Custard:
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat place the cooked wheat, milk, butter and lemon rind.
Cook about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens.
Take the lemon rind out and set a side to cool.
Make the Ricotta Custard:
In a medium bowl, place the ricotta and the sugar.
Mix with a hand blender.
Add the eggs and the yolk and keep on blending.
The end result has to be very smooth.
Place the ricotta mixture in a large bowl.
Take the crema pasticcera and add to it the fresh orange juice.
Mix with the hand blender.
Add the crema pasticcera and the wheat custard to the ricotta custard and stir with a spatula.
Add the vanilla extract and the cinnamon and stir with a spatula.
If you like the flavor of the candied fruits, this is where you have to add them in.
Personally do not like them, so i am not going to add them.
The filling is finished, set the bowl a side and prepare the crust.
Pre-heat the oven at 315 F.
Roll the pasta frolla with a rolling pin on a floured surface about 1/8 inch thick.
Roll the pasta frolla over the rolling pin and place it on the buttered baking pan.
Cut the extra pasta frolla off the sides of the pan.
This is the base of the cake.
Roll the extra pasta frolla again and make long strips to garnish the top of the cake.
Fill the base of the cake with the wheat custard and place the strips of pasta frolla over the filling in a checkered pattern.
Put in the pre-heated oven on the medium rack and cook 1 hour and 40 minutes or until ready.
The cake may swell a little, but it will settle when it is out of the oven.
Left the pastiera cool down completely.
The next step is optional, if you prefer you can just leave the pastiera in the baking pan.
Do this when the pastiera is cool or it will break.
Place a big dish (facing down) over the pastiera and holding the dish and the baking pan, flip them together.
Take the baking pan off.
Put anoter dish (facing down) on the under side of the pastiera (that now it’s facing up) and flip both dishes again.
The pastiera is facing up now, dust with powdered sugar.
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