Pastiera napoletana (Neapolitan ricotta cheese Easter pie)

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PRESENTATION

Pastiera napoletana (Neapolitan ricotta cheese Easter pie)

On Holy Thursday, in Neapolitan kitchens the women of the house prepare tortano and casatiello. These baked specialties need slow and gentle rising... in the meantime we focus on another traditional recipe that is a must on the Easter Sunday table: Pastiera napoletana (Neapolitan ricotta cheese Easter pie)! Like every self-respecting regional dessert, the recipe for pastiera, the unmissable dessert of Easter menus, is slightly different in every family. As we follow the more classic version, we are adding lard to the shortcrust to enhance flavor and add flakiness. You too can prepare pastiera napoletana, to give to your friends or to enjoy with your relatives. To enhance flavor, we recommend preparing a few days in advance.

 

INGREDIENTS

Ingredients for the puff pastry (for a 20-26 cm mold)
Flour 00 2 ¾ cups (315 g)
Lard 1 cup (180 g) - cold
Sugar ⅔ cup (135 g)
Egg yolks 3
to cook the wheat
Whole milk 1 cup (250 g)
Cooked wheat 1 ½ cup (350 g)
Lard 2 tbsp (30 g)
Lemon peel 1
for the cream
Ricotta cheese from cow's milk 1 cup (200 g)
Ricotta cheese from sheep's milk 1 cup (200 g)
Sugar 1 ¾ cup (350 g)
Eggs 3
Candied citron 2 oz (50 g)
Candied orange 2 oz (50 g)
Orange blossom water 1 tsp (15 g)
Cinnamon powder 1 pinch
Vanilla bean 1
To grease and flour the mold
Lard to taste
Flour 00 to taste
Preparation

How to prepare Pastiera napoletana (Neapolitan ricotta cheese Easter pie)

To prepare pastiera napoletana (Neapolitan ricotta cheese Easter pie) start with shortcrust pastry. Pour the flour and sugar 1 into a bowl, add the lard 2 and start kneading by hand 3

As soon as you have obtained a crumbly mixture 4 add the yolks 5. Work with your hands again 6

and as soon as you get an evenly textured dough, transfer it to a work surface 7. Continue kneading the dough, just long enough to obtain a smooth and evenly textured dough 8. Wrap in plastic wrap 9 and leave to rest in the refrigerator for an hour or so.  

In the meantime pour the milk into a saucepan, add the precooked wheat 10, lard 11 and grated lemon rind 12

Turn on the heat and stirring frequently 13, leave to cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat until a creamy mixture is obtained 14 and leave to cool. Once the mixture has cooled completely, start making the cream. In a bowl sift both the cow's and sheep's ricotta cheese 15;

Add the sugar 16 and mix with a whisk or spatula 17. Then add the eggs 18

and the cooled wheat mixture 19. Add the seeds of the vanilla bean 20; dice both the orange and the candied citron 21

and put them in the mixture 22, together with a pinch of cinnamon 23 and orange blossom water 24

Now mix all the ingredients 25 and proceed to assemble the cake. Grease with lard and flour an 8-inch to 11-inch (20-26 cm) round aluminum cake mold 26. Using a rolling pin, roll out the shortcrust pastry 27

to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) 28. Now transfer it into the mold 29, pressing against the entire surface 30

Remove the excess dough with a small knife 31 and knead it again, it will be used to make the lattice pattern on top. Pour the cream inside the shortcrust pastry shell 32 and level it. Roll out the rest of the dough, again, about 1/4-inch (1/2 cm) thick and make the lozenges, about 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) wide, using a pastry cutter wheel 33

Align the ribbons of dough on top of the cake, first in one direction 34 and then in the other 35, in a lattice pattern, all the way to the sides of the mold. Bake in a static oven preheated to 350°F (180°C) for about 80 minutes, moving the cake to the lowest rack during the last 20 minutes of baking time. If the lattice should darken too much, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil. Remove the pastiera napoletana (Neapolitan ricotta cheese Easter pie) 36 and let it cool completely. Before serving, you can sprinkle the surface with powdered sugar to taste. 

Storage

Once cooked, pastiera napoletana can be kept for a week in the fridge under a glass dome, or in a cool, dry place. Both the cream and the shortcrust pastry can be prepared a few hours in advance, but once the cake is assembled, we recommend baking it immediately. This cake can also be frozen, for convenience cut it into slices so you can defrost your portions as needed!

Tips

If you prefer, you can use 2/3 cup (155 g) of butter instead of lard to prepare the shortcrust pastry, and keep the same amounts for the cream.

If the ricotta is too wet, you can let it drain in a colander for a few hours.

For a smoother version, you can grind part or all of the cooked wheat in a blender!

Not a fan of candied citrus peel? You can blend these too!

 

Interesting fact

The name pastiera seems to derive from the habit, consolidated for a certain period of time, of using cooked pasta instead of cooked wheat; even today, some housewives prepare the pastiera using pasta such as spaghetti or capellini.

If you prefer a cream without candied fruit you can omit them, the cake will be just as delicious.

To make the filling finer and less rustic, you could grind all or half of the cooked wheat before adding it to the remaining cream.