Pastiera is a well known Easter time Italian dessert coming straight from Naples. Its ingredients reminds you of the scents and flavors of spring in the bay of Naples. This cake, in fact, has a dominant flavor of orange flower, and a delicate touch of fresh ricotta cheese. It is easy to prepare, but it requires your love and attention, as with all the traditional Italian desserts. Follow our directions and garnish your Easter breakfast with an Italian touch!
For the Pasta Frolla (dough)
320 gr (11 oz) 00 all-purpose flour (make sure you have an extra cup of 00 all-purpose flour, you might need to adjust the dough)
180 gr (6 oz) butter (1 ½ sticks of butter)
140 gr (4.9 oz) sugar
3 egg yolks
For the filling
180 ml (¾ cup) whole milk
350 gr (12.3oz) canned cooked wheat (can be found on line if not in your market)
30 gr (1 oz) butter (1/4 stick of butter)
Zest of a lemon
400 gr (14 oz) fresh ricotta
250 gr (8.8 oz) sugar
50 gr (1.7 oz) candied fruit
½ tsp orange extract
½ tsp powdered cinnamon
1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract)
Round 9 inch spring form pan
In a saucepan, pour ¾ cup of whole milk, the cooked wheat, ¼ stick of butter and the zest of a lemon. Turn the burner on and cook over medium-heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring it with a cooking spatula a little at a time until really creamy, then turn the burner off and let cool down for 5 minutes. Then put in the refrigerator and let cool down for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C/ 350 °F.
On a cutting board, arrange a volcano of 11 oz of 00 all-purpose flour, add 1 ½ stick of butter, start kneading, then add the sugar (4.9 oz) until a crumbly consistency. Add 3 egg yolks, and knead till a soft and smooth consistency (make sure you have some extra flour during this process, as the dough might need a bit of adjustment). Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature.
In a large bowl, pour the fresh ricotta, and mash it with a fork. Add the sugar (8.8 oz) and mix it with a fork again. Add the cinnamon (1/2 tsp) and mix continuously. Pour the orange extract and the vanilla seeds (obtained by squeezing the vanilla bean) and mix. Add three egg yolks, and mix until a smooth semi-liquid consistency. Add the candied fruit and gently mix with a cooking spatula. Set this mixture aside.
Split the dough in two parts.
Lay parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Evenly spread one part of the dough by applying pressure with your fingertips (help yourself by adding some flour to your hands so the dough doesn’t stick to you), forming the bottom and the edges, about 1 inch in height.
Take the wheat cream stored in the refrigerator and blend with an immersion blender, until smooth and creamy. Add the cream in the bowl with the mixture and mix with a cooking spatula. Pour the whole thing in the baking pan.
Now, with the other half of the dough, form little “snakes” (approximately 8 inches in length, which you will press flat to form a ribbon) and lay each ribbon forming a grid pattern on top of the dough. In this way you will get the top of your Pastiera and its traditional look with a cross cross pattern.
Bake (place it in the center to cook evenly when using a convection oven) and cook for 1 hour at 180 °C/350 °F. After 1 hour, place the baking pan closer to the bottom of your oven and cook for another 20 minutes (this will properly cook the bottom of your cake, especially when not using a convection oven).
Once cooked, take it out from the oven, let it rest for 45 minutes. It should be stored in the refrigerator, covered before serving.
This cake pairs perfectly with a cup of black tea, or with a Valdobbiadene DOP Prosecco.