With all the at-home recipe testing going on right now, we may just have to take to the kitchen to make Pastiera Napoletana—a traditional tart Tour Director Linda baked at home in Naples. Watch her video to get the scoop on this sweet treat!
Lucky for us, Linda passed along her grandmother’s Pastiera Napoletana recipe. “The recipe has slight differences for every family, and at Easter time there was, and still is, a serious competition between people about who bakes the best one,” said Linda.
“When I was little, my grandmother used to bake about ten pastieras during Easter week. She kept two for the family and gave away the others as an Easter gift—also her way of showing off how good her pastiera was. She was quite famous for it,” said Linda. “Although this is traditionally a cake served at Easter, today you find it all year round.”
Step 1: Form the shortcrust pastry
5 cups (450 g) of all-purpose flour
1 cup (185/190 g) of granulated sugar
10.5 tablespoons (150 g) of soft, unsalted butter—take it out of the fridge about 1 hour before making your dough
2 egg yolks
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Chop the butter into small pieces and pulse together with the rest of the ingredients. Once the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add egg yolks and eggs. Knead until a dough forms. Cover dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight.
Step 2: Cook the wheat cream
10.5 oz (300 g) of cooked wheat berries or pearl barley
1 cup (200 ml) of milk
7 Tbsp (100 g) of butter
Grated peel of 1 large orange
3 spoons of sugar
1 vanilla bean pod, scraped—you can replace the bean pod with vanilla extract but, in this case, do not add it until step 3
In a saucepan over medium heat, add wheat berries or pearl barley, milk, butter, orange peel, sugar, and scraped vanilla bean pod. If using vanilla extract, add it during step 3.
Gently bring to a boil and stir continuously until it becomes thick and creamy, about 15–20 minutes. Let cool.
Step 3: Make the ricotta filling
Cooled wheat cream
10.6 oz (300 g) of cow’s milk ricotta cheese
1 1/3 cup (250 g) of sugar
6 egg whites
3 egg yolks
2–3 oz (50–100 g) of finely chopped candied orange and lemon peel
1 Tbsp of orange blossom water
Sift the ricotta cheese. In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sugar until creamy. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Add a small pinch of salt to make the whites stiffer. Once stiff, add to the bowl with the egg yolks and sugar, and combine until a very soft cream forms. Mix in ricotta, cold wheat cream, vanilla extract (if using), candied peels, and orange blossom water.
Step 4: Assemble the pastiera
Take dough out of the fridge and roll out about two-thirds of it and place in a 10-inch (25 cm) greased springform tin; cut off any overhang. Roll out the remaining dough and cut seven long, ¾-inch wide strips with a pastry crimper wheel.
Evenly fill the pastry base with the ricotta mixture. Don’t fill it to the top as the filling will rise while cooking and sink once cooled.
Lay the long pastry strips gently across the top to form a criss-cross diamond pattern, not a square. Gently press the strips down along the edge of the pastry.
Bake for one hour at 390ºF (200ºC) until the pastry is golden and amber-brown on top. After one hour, if you notice that the filling is still too soft (gently shake to see if the filling moves like jello), cook for 10–20 more minutes.
Cool completely inside the springform pan before removing. The pastiera should rest for one full day before serving. You can add powdered sugar to decorate the top.
Did you bake this Italian treat? Head to our Facebook page to post a picture of your pastiera!