Pastiera | Authentic Italian Easter Pie Recipe
Updated: Apr 17
Pastiera is a southern Italian Easter classic, hailing from Naples. It's one of our favorite desserts, no matter the time of year! Its filling, made primarily from ricotta, eggs and cooked wheat, is supremely delicious in a way that's difficult to imagine until you try it!
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
This recipe makes two 9-inch pies. We were torn on whether to divide the ingredient amounts in half, as they become a little awkward (1/2 an egg yolk?). Usually pastiere are made for big groups of festive people, so in the end we decided to leave it as is; feel free to divide as you see fit!
To make the crusts, you will need:
- 4 1/8 cup (500g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 14 tbsp (200g) unsalted butter or lard (room temperature, cut into small pieces), plus extra for greasing
- 2/3 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- Grated orange zest
To make the filling, you will need:
- 17.5 oz. (500g) cooked wheat grain
- 1 1/4 cup (300ml) whole milk
- 1 tbsp (14g) butter
- 24.5 oz. (700g) ricotta
- 2 1/4 cup (500g) granulated sugar
- 5 eggs + 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 tsp “fior d’arancio” orange blossom essence (see below)
- 5.25 oz. (150g) candied citron, finely chopped
You will also need powdered sugar for topping.
“Fior d’arancio,” essence of orange blossom, is essential to have the real pastiera. This is a big part of what gives the filling its incredible taste! It’s not always easy to find, though. If you can’t get some, you can try substituting with a teaspoon of orange or almond extract. It won’t be quite the same but it will still be yummy!
Begin by making the crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, butter, sugar, eggs and a pinch of orange zest. Quickly mix by hand until a rough dough forms. Transfer it to a flat work surface and knead it until it is smooth and uniform. It’s important to work quickly so the butter doesn’t completely melt.
Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling…
In a large saucepan, combine the cooked wheat, milk and butter. Heat over medium/low, stirring with a whisk, until the mixture thickens. It should be a little bit thinner than a custard. Allow it to cool completely.
As the milk cools, press the ricotta through a fine mesh sifter with a spatula. This will help make it smooth and creamy!
Mix the ricotta, sugar, eggs, vanilla, fior d’arancio, and chopped candied citron into the milk mixture. Stir well.
Preheat an oven to 395 degrees F (200 C). Grease your 9-inch pie dish with butter and dust it completely with flour. Dump out the excess.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Divide it in two and place one half back in the fridge. Dust a large work surface lightly with flour and roll the dough out until it is about 1/8 inch (3mm) thick and large enough to cover your pie dish. Dust the dough with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Drape the crust over your dish. Gently press it into the bottom corners for a nice fit. Trim the edges; there shouldn’t be any overhanging crust on the dish lip.
Pour the filling into the pie until it is almost full to the rim (leave a little room for the top crust). Roll out the dough trimmings to the same thickness as the bottom crust and cut them into long, 1-inch strips. Lay these over the pie to make a checkerboard or lattice pattern. Trim the edges off.
Bake on the middle rack of your oven for about 1 hour, or until browned on top. Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature for one day before eating. Don’t be surprised if it rises quite a bit in the oven! It will sink and settle flat as it cools.
Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to make the second pie, if desired!
Pastiera can be saved in the fridge for 4-5 days. Dust it with powdered sugar before serving!