Pastiera Napoletana Recipe for Easter 2024
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If you wanna make something very Italian for Easter, we recommend you try our pastiera napoletana recipe.
This traditional Easter cake is made only for Easter and it’s so good that it can easily become a staple. It’s a traditional recipe from Napoli, south of Italy, and since we’re from that area, we’ve decided to share with your our family recipe.
You may find a lot of pastiera recipes online, but make sure you use your judgment to choose the best one: the recipe is not Italian, it’s from a specific part of Italy, and only people coming from that area knows how to make it properly.
This pastiera recipe takes a lot of time but it’s very rewarding: you need to use proper ingredients otherwise your pastiera cake won’t be good at all. You need cooked wheat (this is perfect!), Italian ricotta cheese, cinnamon, and candied peels. Do not forget to use good whole-wheat flour: our flour of choice is usually Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour. Imperial High Gluten Flour is a good alternative.
The method to prepare the pastiera is long and you need at least one day to make a good pastiera. Your effort will totally be paid off, if you follow our traditional pastiera recipe, the one we use in our Neapolitan family.
Ingredients for 3 cakes (23 cm each)
For the crust
- 500 grams of plain flour
- 250 grams of unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon and a half of orange blossom extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 200 grams of sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
For the filling
- 550 grams of cooked whole wheat berries
- 750 grams of ricotta cheese
- 250 grams of sugar
- 100 grams of candied peels
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 oz orange flower water
- a pinch of cinnamon
- 220 ml of milk
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- In a food processor combine the dry ingredients and pulse a few times.
- Add the cut-up butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse ground meal.
- Add the slightly beaten eggs and pulse until the dough starts coming together.
- On a lightly floured wooden board, turn out the dough and form into a smooth ball.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Start making the filling by boiling the cooked wheat in milk together with the grated zest of 1 lemon; mix thoroughly until the mixture is very thick. Pour into a glass bowl and let it cool for a couple of hours.
- After two hours, mix the drained ricotta cheese, candied peels, sugar, orange blossom, cinnamon and four egg yolks until a thick cream will form.
- Add this mixture to the cooked wheat.
- Turn on the oven to 200°.
- Roll out the dough to fit your pie plate. The thickness should be about 1/8 of an inch. Carefully fold over and fit into your pie pan and make sure you cover also the edges. Put aside some crust.
- Pour the filling in.
- Decorate the surface with strips of dough and brush tops of dough strips with milk.
- Bake for about 1 hour and a half at 180° (your pastiera will be cooked when it will be dark [unburned] on the surface!).
- Turn off the oven and leave to cool in the pan.
- Take it out when cold and if wait 24 hours before eating.
Preparation time: 4 hours
Cooking time: 2 hours
Total time: 6 hours
Pastiera Napoletana Recipe: Frequently Asked Question
Over the years, we’ve collected a huge number of questions from people trying to make this pastiera cake. We’ve decided to answer to the most common.
Can I make a pastiera Napoletana with rice?
You can, but it’s not a pastiera Napoletana recipe anymore. It’s a rice cake, and it’s different from the traditional pastiera. It can be hard to find cooked wheat, and for this reason, if you want to stick with the original recipe, you can use raw wheat for your pastiera, but you need way more time to make it.
Use half of the cooked one’s dose and leave it to soak in a bowl with cold water. Change water every morning for 3 days. After 3 days, drain, rinse and cook the wheat in water over high heat. Once it has boiled, let it simmer over medium-low heat for 2 hours. Once cooked, drain it completely and use it for your pastiera, following the same method explained above for the already cooked wheat.
What type of ricotta cheese should I use for my pastiera cake?
Only sheep’s ricotta cheese should be used: it is fatter than the cow’s one, which means your cream will be better and much taster. The ricotta must be sieved before being incorporated into the other ingredients.
How can I cook this pastiera?
The cooking must take place in an already hot oven, following these general rules: at 180° C for 1 hour / 1 hour and a half (depends on the oven), to get a well-cooked and soft pastiera while at 200° C for 30 minutes for pastiera that’s moister inside;
How long does this Easter cake last?
The pastiera Napoletana is traditionally prepared on Holy Thursday but can also be made earlier because it is a dessert that improves with the days’ passing and can be kept for up to 10 days.
How many strips of dough should I use to decorate my pastiera?
The number of dough strips depends on your taste: some add several to bring out the pastry flavor, and those prefer to give maximum emphasis to the cream. It is common to add 4 of them across the top of the pastiera in one direction and place the other 4 diagonally. In all cases, they must be quite thin; otherwise, you will only taste the crust and not the cream.