Pastiera Napoletana is a sweet wheat berry and ricotta pie that originates in Naples, Italy. It is a traditional dessert served on the Easter Holiday in many Italian families.
While this recipe is a bit “labor intensive” because of the 4 components, it can be made well in advance and frozen until the day before serving. If you make one, you may as well make a few, as your guests would be very grateful to enjoy the next day!
Allow yourself 2 days for making this cake, one for the prep and the other to assemble and bake. Wheat berries may be purchased at a health food store, orange flower water at a middle eastern grocery.
- Pasta Frolla (sweet pastry dough)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 egg with 2 Tbsp water or milk
- Egg wash
- 1 egg
- Pinch salt
- Cooked Wheat Kernels
- 1/2 cup hulled wheat kernels
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- Pastry Cream
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Ricotta filling
- 1 cup fresh ricotta - strained overnight
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)
- 1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
- pinch cinnamon ( optional)
- For the Pasta Frolla, combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with fingertips making sure the mixture remains cool and powdery. Beat the egg and milk together with a fork and stir into the dough. Continue stirring until the dough begins to pull together. Knead dough lightly on a floured surface, shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough.
- Soak the wheat in water and cover overnight if possible. Drain the wheat and place in a pan with salt and water to cover by 3 to 4 inches and simmer until tender, about 2 hours. Add water as necessary to keep from drying out and sticking. Cool and refrigerate until needed.
- For the pastry cream, combine sugar and flower in a small sauce pan. Stir well and slowly add milk, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the egg. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the pastry cream thickens and comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Press plastic wrap against the surface and chill.
- To assemble the filling, beat ricotta to soften it, beating in the sugar. Beat in eggs and remaining ingredients. Stir in the cooked wheat and the pastry cream.
- Butter a 9-inch cake pan, 2 inches deep.
- To assemble, cut off 1/3 of the Pasta Frolla and reserve it. Roll the 2/3 of the dough into a 14-inch disk and line the prepared pan with it. Allow the dough to hang over the edge of the pan. Pour in the Filling and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll the remaining 1/3 of dough into a 10-inch square. Cut it into 10 1-inch wide strips. Paint the strips rim of dough in pan with egg wash, and adhere 5 strips in each direction, forming a diagonal lattice. Trim away any excess dough and push down dough so it does not hang over pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set and pastry is light golden.
- Cool in the pan before unmolding. Unmold by inverting the pan onto a flat plate, lift off pan and reinvert pastry so it is right side up.
- Serve at room temperature.