Pastiera

A plate with a Pastiera cake and a flower next to it. pinit

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Indulge in the flavors of Italy with Pastiera, a delightful Neapolitan Easter dessert that holds a special place in Italian hearts. This sweet and aromatic pastry is filled with the goodness of ricotta cheese, wheat berries, and fragrant citrus. As the Easter season approaches, families in Italy come together to savor the rich history and tradition of this unique treat. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through making the perfect Pastiera, so you can experience a taste of Italy in your own kitchen.

Pastiera is a classic Italian Easter dessert that has a rich and storied history. Its origins can be traced back to Naples, Italy, where it has been enjoyed for centuries during the Easter holiday. Here’s a brief glimpse into the history of this delicious treat:

  • Ancient Roots: The history of pastiera is deeply rooted in ancient Roman mythology. It is said that the Sirens, mythical creatures, attempted to create a cake that could encapsulate the flavors and aromas of the Mediterranean. The result was a cake made from simple ingredients like wheat, ricotta cheese, eggs, and aromatic orange blossom water.
  • Easter Tradition: Over time, pastiera became associated with Easter due to its key ingredients. Wheat symbolizes rebirth, ricotta represents purity, and eggs are a symbol of life and resurrection. This dessert is traditionally prepared and served during the Easter season, especially on Easter Sunday.
  • Regional Variations: While the basic ingredients remain consistent, different regions of Italy have their own variations of pastiera. Some regions add candied fruits or chocolate chips for extra flavor, while others stick to the classic ingredients. Neapolitan pastiera, however, is the most famous and cherished version.

Pastiera

Pastiera is a traditional Italian Easter cake, filled with a luscious mixture of ricotta cheese, cooked wheat berries, eggs, and flavored with orange blossom water and candied citrus peel. The combination of these ingredients creates a delightful harmony of sweet and citrusy flavors, making Pastiera an unforgettable dessert that captures the essence of the season.

Tools and Equipment

Prep Time 30 mins Cook Time 1 hr Rest Time 2 hrs Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins Difficulty: Advanced Servings: 10 Calories: 475.67 Best Season: Spring

Ingredients

For the Pastry:

For the Filling:

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar for the pastry.

  2. Add the cold cubed butter to the dry ingredients, and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

  3. Add the egg and lemon zest to the mixture, and mix until the dough comes together.

  4. Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

  6. Roll out the chilled pastry dough on a lightly floured surface until it's large enough to fit the bottom and sides of the springform pan.

  7. Carefully transfer the rolled-out dough to the greased pan, pressing it against the bottom and sides.

  8. In a medium saucepan, cook the wheat berries according to the package instructions.

  9. In a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth, drain and rinse the cooked wheat berries. Set them aside to cool completely.

  10. In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat the ricotta cheese and sugar for the filling until smooth.

  11. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

  12. Stir in the orange blossom water, orange and lemon zest, and chopped candied citrus peel.

  13. Gently fold the cooled wheat berries into the ricotta mixture until well combined.

  14. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry crust in the springform pan.

  15. Bake the Pastiera in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until the top is golden and the filling is set.

  16. Allow the Pastiera to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 10


Amount Per Serving
Calories 475.67kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16.92g27%
Saturated Fat 9.77g49%
Trans Fat 0.18g
Cholesterol 140.12mg47%
Sodium 221.64mg10%
Potassium 354.99mg11%
Total Carbohydrate 70.83g24%
Dietary Fiber 1.86g8%
Sugars 41.76g
Protein 10.47g21%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Please note that the nutritional values provided are approximate and may vary depending on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used. It's always best to double-check with your specific ingredients and measurements for accurate nutritional information.

Note

Tips and Variations:
  • To save time, you can use store-bought candied citrus peel or make your own by candying citrus peel in sugar syrup.
  • If you can't find orange blossom water, you can substitute it with vanilla extract.
  • For added richness, you can sprinkle the top of the Pastiera with powdered sugar before serving.
Serving Suggestions:
  • Pastiera is best enjoyed at room temperature, and it pairs wonderfully with a cup of espresso or a glass of sweet wine.
Allergen Information:
  • Dairy: Pastiera contains dairy in the form of ricotta cheese and butter. If you have lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy, you may consider using lactose-free alternatives or dairy-free butter substitutes.

  • Gluten: Traditional pastiera is made with wheat, which contains gluten. If you require a gluten-free option, consider using gluten-free wheat alternatives or almond flour.

Wine or Drink Pairing:
  • Espresso: A shot of espresso or a small cup of strong coffee complements the sweet and creamy flavors of pastiera.

  • Vin Santo: This Italian dessert wine, with its notes of dried fruits and nuts, pairs wonderfully with the nutty and citrusy notes of pastiera.

  • Limoncello: The zesty and refreshing flavors of limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, provide a delightful contrast to the richness of pastiera.

Storage and Leftovers:
  • Refrigeration: Pastiera should be stored in the refrigerator. Cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out. It can be kept for up to 3-4 days.

  • Freezing: While pastiera can be frozen, it may slightly alter the texture. If freezing, wrap individual slices tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Use within 2-3 months for the best quality.

  • Reheating: To enjoy leftover pastiera, simply remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Reheating is not necessary, but if you prefer it warm, you can gently warm individual slices in the microwave for a few seconds or in a low oven until just heated through.

Keywords: Pastiera, Italian Easter Cake, Ricotta Cheese, Wheat Berries, Citrus Flavors, Dessert, Sweet Treat

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