Pastiera di Pasqua (Wheat Pie)

Pastiera di Pasqua ( Wheat Pie) is my family’s favorite of  Italian Easter treats, which is especially popular in the Naples area. Actually Naples is where Pastiera originated. It is safe to say, that as much as Strufoli are associated with Christmas, then undoubtedly the Pastiera {passt-ear-AR} belongs to Easter, and especially to Good Friday.
Essentially this is a type of custard cheesecake, consisting of ricotta cheese combined with a custard mix, and with cooked wheat, and flavored citrus zest running through it. When this mixture is eaten in combination with the shortcrust pastry it is absolutely delicious!
In addition if you can’t find candid orange zest, you could make your own by boiling orange peel in sugar water, for around 10 minutes, draining and then leaving the peel in sugar for a few days. After shaking off the excess sugar, you can store them in sealed jars.
Cooked wheat can be found in cans by Mariapina Cooked Wheat- Grano Cotto  but for those of you that live in the  Poughkeepsie, NY  area Caffe Aurora,  an Italian bakery always has cooked wheat available during the Easter season.  They cook it in Mille Fiore (rose water) which is the flavor that makes the Pastiera authentically delicious!

Here is a link that gives you some background history of the Pastiera                        http://almostitalian.com/pastiera-di-grano/

Pastiera di Pasqua
(Easter Pie, Easter Tart, Wheat Pie )

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of  cooked wheat
2 cups hot milk
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp grated lemon peel
1 tbs sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 ¼ pound of ricotta
2 cups of sugar
6 egg yolks
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp grated lemon peel
½ candied citron and orange peel diced fine
4 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 recipe of pasta frolla for the crust* see below for recipe
2 tbs confectioners’ sugar
Procedure:

In a medium sauce pan place first six ingredients and simmer until milk has completely evaporated.  Remove from fire and cool.

Place ricotta in bowl and stir until very smooth.  Add sugar and egg yolks, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Add cinnamon, candied citron and candied orange peel, the rest of the lemon peel and last of all the cooked wheat.  Mix together well and blend in egg whites which have been beaten until stiff but not dry.

Divide Pasta Frolla into 2 parts, one larger than the other and roll the larger piece to a thickness of ½ inch.  Butter and flour a 10 inch cheese cake spring pan and line the bottom and sides with rolled out piece of pastry, trimming edges.  Pour in ricotta filling.  Roll out smaller piece of pasta frolla and
cut into 1 inch strips. Place strips criss-cross over cheese filling, trimming neatly around the edges.  Bake cake in moderate oven (375 degree F) 45 – 60 minutes. Let cool in pan.  When cool, push
up bottom of spring pan, transfer tart to serving dish and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

 

I adjusted this recipe to my family’s liking where I use half the sugar and no citron.  It comes out very sweet with the pasta frolla so I only use half the sugar and it comes out very good.  This recipe is the most like the way my grandmother used to make.  She had 7 children and would make a pastiera for each of her children’s family.  I would often go to her house before Easter to help her put the pies together.  She used pie plates and not the spring form pans. You can use  this  same recipe and adjust the baking time to  35-45 minutes for pie plates. You also need to double the pasta frolla.  This recipe
makes 2 pies.

 

* Pasta Frolla

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted pastry flour
1 cup of sugar
Small pinch of salt
½ cup butter at room temperature
2 eggs
½ tsp grated lemon rind

Procedure:

Sift together flour, sugar and salt.  Make a well of dry ingredients on pastry board.
Place butter, eggs and lemon rind in well and work dough with hands quickly.  Do not add water.  When smooth, shape into ball and chill 30 minutes.

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