How to make traditional Neapolitan Pastiera

How to make traditional Neapolitan Pastiera

Pastiera Napoletana
is a pastry originating from Naples and eaten typically at Easter. Each family has their own preference and own recipe of preparing this pastry. Mamma shared her recipe with me, saying that she learnt it from her nonna (the mother of her mother) and that they have used this recipe for many years.

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The key ingredient to this pastiera is the cooked wheat. Of course many choose to make the cooked wheat from scratch, but if you are lucky enough to find the one in the stores, you will save yourself a few hours of work. Mamma bought this grano cotto from the local supermarket which has its own recipe written at the back, but I was lucky enough to learn mamma’s recipe.

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This recipe made enough for three individual pastieras which was too much for us to eat alone, so mamma gave one to her amica as a gift.

Ingredients for the cooked wheat:

  • One jar of cooked wheat grains
  • 60g of butter
  • The zest of half a lemon
  • 100 g of white sugar
  • 250ml of milk

In a large pot, add all the ingredients and stir. Allow to cook on the stove for approximately 30 minutes and leave to cool.

Ingredients for the crema:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 spoons of white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of type “00” flour
  • 500ml of milk
  • The zest of half a lemon

In a small pot, mix the yolks of the 2 eggs with the sugar until a paste is formed. Add the flour to the mix as well as half of the milk. Add the lemon zest and place on the stove whilst stirring continuously in a clockwise direction. Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir and try remove any lumps that may form. Once this thickens and has the appearance of custard, turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Ingredients for the pasta frolla: (pastry)

  • 500g of type “00” flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g white sugar
  • 150g butter
  • The zest of half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of “lievito per dolce” (yeast for desserts)

Place the flour on a clean surface. Create a “hole” in the middle of the flour with your finger and place all the ingredients in the middle of this. Mix all these ingredients with your fingers and roll into a dough ball. Cover with a dishcloth and allow this to rest for one hour.

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Ingredients for the ricotta mix:

  • 500g of fresh ricotta cheese
  • 500g of white sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • One teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Essence of orange flower
  • One half of a lemon
  • One half of an orange
  • 5g of vanilla powder

In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta and sugar until a cream is formed. Add the 7 eggs and cinnamon to this mix and continue to mix with the whisk. Add the cooked wheat mix and the crema mix and continue to whisk all together. In a separate bowl, mix the essence of orange flower and the juice of half a lemon and half an orange; add this to the mix and whisk all together and add the vanilla powder.

Line the pie dishes with butter (we had three pie dishes). Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin and line the pie dish with the pastry. Add candied fruit (cedro candito) to the mix if you wish (we decided to add this to only one of the pies as mamma’s daughter doesn’t like the taste of candied fruit).

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Add your mix to the pastry-lined pie dish and make strips from the leftover pastry and lay them crisscross across the top of the cream mix.

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Place your pastieras in the oven at 200ºC for one and a half hours.

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This wheat cheese cake is not excessively sweet, but the unusual mix of flavours are what makes this dessert worth a try. Buon appetito.


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