Pastiera Napoletana – The Traditional Easter Dessert of Naples

Apr
2015
04

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slice - pastiera napoletana

It’s official, I’m obsessed with “la pastiera napoletana”. This dessert from Naples is traditionally served for the Easter. It has a bit of crunch given from a thick shortcrust pastry combined with the creaminess of ricotta. Add in a little cinnamon, vanilla, orange blossom water, plus candied fruit, and you get bit of pop of flavor that break up the smooth filling.

It’s really good! So good that with my husband’s help I made it all of 4 times this past week. In fact one of them I had to send with the hubby to the office because if I not I risked a pastiera induced spike in cholesterol.

slice - pastiera napoletana

Here in Italy the ingredients are all pretty easy to acquire, and relatively inexpensive. In the States you’ll probably need to go to a specialty store for the wheat berries and the orange blossom water. I saw only that you can buy online the cooked wheat berries, but I also saw the price and thought that was highway robbery.

I was so upset with the cost of some cooked wheat, that one of the 4 pies I made was testing a batch made with the most readily available alternative to the wheat berries, pearled barley. I’ve included below a recipe of how to prepare it for the dish.

Guys I actually almost risked my life making this dish. I popped the pearled berries into my pressure cooker on high and then sat down in the living room chatting with my dad. At little time later I heard a small explosion. I forgot to take into consideration that barley bubbles up when cooked on high. I had a little hot water geyser going in the kitchen. Praise the Lord for release values!

The hubby made this one. He did a pretty good job.

The hubby made this one. He did a pretty good job.

Pastiera Napoletana
Print Recipe
Traditional Easter dessert from Naples made with ricotta and candied fruit. It's not hard to make, but there are quite a few steps involved. No worries, your friends, family, guests will be wowed by the results.
Servings
6 people
Cook Time
2-3 hours
Servings
6 people
Cook Time
2-3 hours
Pastiera Napoletana
Print Recipe
Traditional Easter dessert from Naples made with ricotta and candied fruit. It's not hard to make, but there are quite a few steps involved. No worries, your friends, family, guests will be wowed by the results.
Servings
6 people
Cook Time
2-3 hours
Servings
6 people
Cook Time
2-3 hours
Ingredients
Pasta Frolla Crust
Ricotta Filling
Grano Cotto Substitute
Servings: people
Instructions
Crust
  1. Add flour, butter, salt, lemon zest to a food processor. Blend for a about 20-30 seconds until it resembles grains of sand. Very briefly pulse in sugar. Then add eggs to combine. Remove from food processor kneed just enough to form a ball. (Add a bit more water if it's too dry or more flour if too wet.)
  2. Mold dough into a round disk about 2 inches (4.5 cm) think. Place in plastic wrap, chill for at least 30 minutes but preferably over night.
Prepare Grano Cotto Substitute (if using)
  1. Add water, and barley to a medium sized pot of water. Cook on medium low heat for twice the package recommend time, approx. 90 minutes. Drain
  2. In a small glass add potato starch and about a tbsp of water. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add cooked barley, diluted potato starch, and salt where the recipe calls for "grano cotto".
Filling
  1. In a small sauce pan add grano cotto, milk, butter, vanilla, and orange zest. Cook on a low flame for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally until all the milk is absorbed and leaves a sticky film on the grano. Place in a bowl and set in freezer for about 10 minutes.
  2. While the grano is cooking down, place push ricotta through sieve to make a fine paste into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and cooled grano to bowl. Mix to combine. (Do not over mix because you don't want to incorporate too much air into the filling.)
Assemble
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Butter and flour an 8 inch spring form cake pan (a normal cake pan will do, but is trickier to remove).
  2. Remove the dough from the fridge. Remove plastic wrap. Place on a light floured surface, pound the dough a few times with a lightly floured rolling pin (to lowered the height of the dough without having raising its temperature). Then roll with pin (lifting dough from surface from time to time to prevent it from sticking) to thickness of approximately 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick. Transfer flattened dough to a 8 in cake pan (straight sides), cutting off excess hanging from sides. Roll excess dough back into a ball.
  3. Fill pie dough with filling and place in fridge.
  4. Flatten remaining dough to a thickness of of approximately 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick, and cut into strips approximately 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) wide. Remove dough from fridge, decorate pie top with criss-cross strips (no need to make a weave pattern - traditionally in Italy they just lay them on top).
  5. Bake in a static oven for an 60 - 75 minutes, until the pie is set in the middle and the top is lightly golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven. Let cool completely in tin before removing. You can serve once cooled, but the cake is best served the following day, and the flavors have had more time to meld and merge.
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