Recipes

Pastiera – Neapolitan Easter Cake

1st April 2015

Easter is upon us: that time of the year when it’s absolutely acceptable to eat chocolate for four days in a row. After January Detox and Lent, we can finally stuff ourselves silly and IT’S ALRIGHT!

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To be honest with you, I never “detox” or diet in January because it’s my birthday month. I have also never given up anything for Lent because a) I am not religious b) I can’t think of a good reason to do it. My attitude is to always eat anything I want, but in moderation.

There’s always chocolate in my house at any point in time, because you never know when you are going to crave it right? In the last few weeks – and in the spirit of Easter – I have been treating myself to one small chocolate egg truffle or Lindt gold bunny every now and then (= everyday)!

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I received a generous Easter gift from Lindt with many bunnies of different flavours (milk, dark, white and hazelnut) plus a huge 1kg gold bunny, which I can’t wait to unwrap and smash into pieces on Easter Sunday! The best part is actually smashing the chocolate for me, it reminds me of being a kid breaking the Easter eggs to find out what the surprise inside was.

I am also patiently waiting for Easter Sunday to open the colomba cakes my mum recently brought me from Italy, as well as eat a slice of Pastiera Napoletana.

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The pastiera is a Neapolitan tart filled with ricotta cheese mixed with cooked wheat and flavoured with orange blossom water. It’s traditionally made for Easter, so it’s difficult (or impossible) to find it during other times of the year or in different Italian regions.

Last year when my mum visited me in London , I asked her to make this cake with me so that I could learn as well. Around the same time we also made the cassata siciliana (you can find the recipe on my blog) so we decided to put the pastiera away in the freezer. I took it out a few weeks ago when my mum came to visit again and even after 10 months the cake tasted incredibly good, apart from a slightly crumbly edge, the tart looks nearly perfect!

My mum also made a new cake for us and I can’t wait to eat it again this Sunday! :)

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Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6g baking powder
  • pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 210g canned cooked wheat (Grano Chirico)
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 15g butter
  • 1/2 lemon peel
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 300g granulated white sugar
  • 350g ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • icing sugar to decorate

Preparation

Shape the flour in a fountain, place the pieces of cold butter in the centre, with sugar on top. Knead the butter and sugar first, then slowly add the flour into the mix. Keep kneading, then add the egg, baking powder and pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Heat the wheat in a pot with the milk, butter and lemon peel for about 10 minutes. Cool down and remove the lemon peel.

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Mix it with the ricotta cheese and sugar. Add the eggs, orange blossom water, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the dough and press into the bottom and sides of a tart pan. Trim off any excess dough and reserve it for the lattice. Prick the bottom with a fork.

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Spoon the filling into the tart shell and spread out evenly. Make 1cm strips with the remaining dough and arrange them in a lattice pattern over the filling.
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Cook in the oven for about 1 hour.
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Cool down and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

 

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