How to Make Pastiera | Authentic Italian Easter Pie Recipe
Updated: Mar 29
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!
The Secret to Making the Perfect Pastiera
“Fior d’arancio,” essence of orange blossom, is an 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!
Don't confuse fior d'arancio with orange blossom water, which is much too diluted to have the right effect.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make Pastiera here:
Makes: 2 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!
Cook Time: 3-4 hours, best made the day before you plan to serve.
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
Powdered sugar for topping
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 above)
5.25 oz. (150g) candied citron, finely chopped
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 flour.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Divide it in two and place one half back in the fridge to make a second pie later. 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 with plenty of overhang. 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 overhanging edges and save these scraps for later.
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 alarmed 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 right before serving.
Want to try a savory Italian Easter pie? Check out our recipe for the classic Torta Pasqualina! If you're in the mood for a similarly delicious Neapolitan dessert, you might be interested in trying your hand at Sfogliatelle.