Pastiera

The Editors at Food Fanatic | Food Fanatic

Learn how to make Pastiera, the unique baked dessert also known as Neapolitan Easter Pie

Pastiera is an indulgent Easter dessert that traditionally features creamy ricotta and wheat berries. 

It is very close in texture to a cheesecake but resembles a pie. Originating in Italy, this dessert is made no later than Good Friday so that all of the flavors infuse before Easter Sunday.

Normally, this dessert is served for breakfast (and who doesn’t love dessert for breakfast?!) or as an accompaniment to tea in the afternoon. 

Neapolitan Easter Pie Photo

While the name is slightly confusing, wheat berries are not actually any kind of berry!

They are the most basic form of wheat and are the result of the husk being removed from the wheat grain kernel. They have a nutty sort of flavor with hints of sweetness, which is why they work so well in this dish, especially when paired with the tang of the ricotta and zing of the orange zest.

Neapolitan Easter Pie Picture

So, why is this dessert traditionally served at Easter you may wonder? There are a few theories about the origins of this delicious dessert, but the one we like most goes back to Naples.

Neapolitan Easter Pie Image

The theory goes that the poor people living in the area were extremely hungry. So hungry, in fact, that when the grain ship arrived, they didn't want to have to wait for baked bread and would boil the grains instead.

This desperation for food reminded many people of how much they needed Jesus in their lives, and so this dessert represents this need in a few ways. The ricotta is a gift from the shepherds that had welcomed Jesus at his birth and the orange flower water represents the new life that we recognize during the spring. 

Neapolitan Easter Pie Pic

This recipe is a delicious take on this joyful Easter dessert which yields a 10-inch pie (also known as Neapolitan Easter Pie). You may want to start prep on this ahead of time, as there are quite a few components and the wheat berries have to be soaked overnight!

Pastiera

10 Servings

Ingredients

Vanilla Pastry Cream:
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped (or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract; omit step 1 if using)
  • 4 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cornstarch
Crust:
  • 5 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperatre
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Finely Grated Orange Zest, from one orange
  • 3 large Eggs
Filling:
  • 1/2 cup Wheat Berries, plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces)
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 12 ounces Ricotta Cheese
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 large Egg, for egg wash

Directions

  1. Start out by preparing the vanilla pastry cream by bringing milk, vanilla seeds and pod to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and leave for 20 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they are smooth.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and corn-starch, followed by the milk mixture, adding slowly and mixing constantly until the mixture has thickened and starts bubbling (approximately five minutes).
  4. Pour in a third of the milk mixture slowly into the egg yolks, while whisking continuously.
  5. The remaining milk mixture can be added to a saucepan and cooked over medium heat, whisking until it rapidly boils and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, approximately two to four minutes. Remove the mixture from heat. 
  6. Place a sieve on top of a heatproof bowl and strain the mixture, discarding any solids captured in the sieve. Wrap in plastic wrap tightly and press into the mixture to avoid a skin forming. Refrigerate until firm, about two hours. You can keep this in the fridge for up to two days. Prior to use, whisk gently to soften.
  7. To make the crust, whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Either by hand, or with an electric mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar in a separate bowl until they are light and fluffy. Beat in orange zest and eggs one at a time, beating well until each egg is fully combined before adding the next. If using an electric mixer, reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture. 
  8. Create two disks of dough, one being about two thirds of the dough and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or up 24 hours.
  9. Make the filling by soaking wheat berries in water (covered by 2 inches) and refrigerating overnight. 
  10. Drain wheat berries and place into a saucepan with milk, water, butter and salt, bringing them to a boil. Reduce, simmer and cook for about an hour until they are tender. Drain well and spread onto a baking sheet, cooling them for 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat your oven to 375 deg F. In a bowl, mix ricotta and sugar until well combined. Add in the cooked wheat berries and vanilla cream you made previously, stirring well.
  12. Lightly flour a countertop and roll out the larger disc of dough so that it is 14 inches round and 1/8 thick. Press it gently into a 10x2 inch springform pan. Spread the pastry filling into the shell and trim off and excess dough. 
  13. Roll out the smaller disc of dough until it is 1/8 thick, and cut into 12 3/2 inch strips. Create a lattice design by weaving strips, trimming off any excess dough. 
  14. Beat an egg and brush it evenly over the top. Bake for about 60-90 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Allow to cool for 20 minutes after baking. Remove the outer ring of the pan and cool before serving.
Source: Martha Stewart
Published:
Author:
Source:
Martha Stewart
Cooking Method:
Baking
Category:
Easter
Tags:
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Related Recipes:
Easter Recipes, Dessert Recipes, Baking Recipes
Recipe Yields:
10 servings
Total Time:
Published:
Author: The Editors at Food Fanatic
Source: Martha Stewart
Recipe Yields: 10 servings
Total Time: 1440 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 10

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 230
Calories 751

% Daily Value*
44%
Total Fat 29g
81%
  Saturated Fat 16g
5%
Sodium 111mg
34%
Total Carbohydrate 101g
2%
  Dietary Fiber 2g
  Sugars 49g
33%
Protein 17g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.