The Pastiera is a traditional Neapolitan cake that can’t be missed on the table in Naples and its surrounding area, especially during Easter. Most likely, the cake you’ll eat during Easter won’t be the one you prepared, but rather the one that a friend of yours, or a neighbour, offered to you. It is in fact tradition to give the Pastiera as a present to the ones you care for. As the process of preparing the Pastiera is fairly long, but not complicated at all, you have to begin making it on the Thursday (or Friday) before Easter. This way, you will have all the time to go visit your friend with a fragrant Pastiera and wish him Happy Easter!
Many thanks to our friend Francesca from Naples, (@asheepinthekitchen), for revealing us the secrets to prepare a traditional Easter Pastiera.
INGREDIENTS for 8 servings (25 cm diameter springform tin):
For the Pasta Frolla:
- 350 g ( 3 cup + 1/2 cup) flour 00
- 3 egg yolks
- 150 g (2/3 cup) sugar
- 150 (2/3 cup) butter or pig fat
- pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 500 g (2 cups) ricotta cheese, drained
- 300 (1 cup + 1/3cup) sugar
- 50 g (1/4 cup) butter
- 250 g ready-to-use cooked wheat
- 4 eggs
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 50 ml (1/3 cup) orange flowers water
- 1 organic lemon zest
- a pinch of vanillin, or 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- a pinch of cinnamon
- 150-200 g (1/2 cup). candied fruit (citron, orange)
- icing sugar to dust
- Prepare the Pasta Frolla:
- In a bowl (or on a wooden working surface) whisk together the flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Then add the butter (or pig fat) and mix until grainy. Add the egg yolks and lightly knead to form a ball. Chill the dough, wrapped in cling film, for at least 20 minutes.
- Before using the Pasta Frolla, let it stand at room temperature until softened, but still firm enough to roll out.
Prepare the filling:
- Place the cooked wheat in a saucepan and then add the milk, butter, 50 g sugar, the lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let cook over medium heat. Mix all the time with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes thicker, (about 30 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
- Mix the drained ricotta with the remaining 250 g of sugar, the vanillin, the orange flowers water, the cinnamon and the candied fruit. Add 4 egg yolks to the mixture and add the cooled wheat mixture. Stir together until combined.
- Whip 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Add whipped whites to the mixture very carefully or the air will go out.
- Turn on the oven to 160 C°.(325 F). Roll out two thirds of the Pasta Frolla into an even layer and place it in a 25 cm greased (or lined with backing parchment) springform tin. Trim any extra dough from the edges. Fill the pastry base with the wheat-ricotta mixture. Roll out the remaining Pasta Frolla and, using a pasta wheel, cut 4 or 8 long strips. Lay 4 (or 2) long strips gently across the top of the cake in one direction and the other 4 (or 2) strips diagonally to form a lozenge pattern.
- Bake the Pastiera for about 1 hour and 30-40 minutes until golden on top.
- Allow to cool completely in the springform tin. Remove it out when cold. Eat the Pastiera preferably the day after, dusting the surface with icing sugar.