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5 from 5 votes

Pastiera Napoletana (Neapolitan Easter Pie)

Pastiera Napoletana is a buttery tart with a creamy filling that’s not overly sweet. This Italian grain pie mixes the flavors of smooth ricotta and pastry cream, candied citrus, cinnamon, and vanilla. The filling is cheesecake-like, but not quite.
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Easter Pie, Pastiera
Servings: 10
Author: Lora

Ingredients

For the pasta frolla (pastry dough):

  • 300 grams pastry flour (10.54 ounces)
  • 200 grams unsalted butter (7.025 ounces)
  • 100 grams granulated sugar (3.512 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk

For the wheat berries:

  • ½ cup hulled white wheat berries
  • 6 cups cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the pastry cream:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk

To assemble the filling:

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta (about 8 ounces)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower water
  • cup candied orange peel , cut into 1/4-inch diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest ( I used organic)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup wheat berries

Instructions

Make the pastry dough:

  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour and sugar and process a few times to mix together.
  • Next add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like wet sand.
  • Add the egg and yolk and process a few seconds more until the dough forms (this should be about 5-7 more pulses). Be sure to not overprocess the dough.
  • Dump the dough from the food processor bowl onto a lightly floured counter. Form the dough into 2 disks (one a little larger than the other. The smaller disk will be used to cut the strips for top of pie) and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  • While dough chills, make the wheat berries and pastry cream.

Prep the wheat berries:

  • Combine the wheat berries with about 2 quarts cold water and the salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then decrease the heat to low and allow the wheat to simmer gently until it is cooked though, about an hour.
  • Drain and cool the wheat in a bowl. While wheat berries cool down, prepare the pastry cream.

Make the pastry cream and filling:

  • Whisk the egg and yolk together in a bowl, then whisk in the sugar and flour. Whisk in the milk and scrape the mixture into a small saucepan.
  • Place over medium/low heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for a few seconds after the cream reaches the boil.
  • Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl. Immediately whisk in the ricotta until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time. Stir in the orange flower water, candied orange peel, vanilla, cinnamon and the cooked wheat berries.

Assemble the pie:

  • When dough is nicely chilled, remove from the refrigerator.
  • Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap into a 13-inch round about 1/8 thick. Spray an 11-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom with baking spray. Gently wrap the dough over the rolling pin and place it over the tart pan; release the rolling pin and let the dough fall into the tart pan.
  • Press the dough softly into the bottom of the tart pan. If some of the dough breaks while you press it into the tart pan, that's not a problem. Simply piece the dough together.
  • Press the sides of the dough about 1/2 inch up the side of the tart pan. The rim of the tart should be lined with a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom  (about 1/4-inch thick). Cut off the extra dough from the sides and keep these excess pieces to make the lattice topping.
  • Place this tart pan in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (or even longer if necessary) to chill.
  • When the dough is chilled and ready to fill, remove the tart pan from the refrigerator and prick the pastry bottom with a fork a few times. Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
  • Spoon the ricotta filling into the prepared crust. Remove the other portion of chilled dough from the refrigerator to make the lattice strips. Use a serrated cutting wheel to cut it into 3/4-inch wide strips.
  • Arrange 5 of the strips parallel and equal distance from each other on the filling, letting the excess dough hang over the edge of the pie. Place the 5 remaining strips on exactly the same way, but at a 45-degree angle to the first ones.
  • Gently press the ends of the strips to adhere to the edge of the bottom crust. Carefully remove any excess pieces of dough with your fingers or with the back of a knife.
  • Bake the pastiera until the filling is set and slightly puffed and the crust is baked through, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Notes

  • Storage: Keep the pastiera at a cool room temperature on the day it is baked. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers. Bring to room temperature before serving again.
  • Filling is from master baker Nick Malgieri.