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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

How to Make Pastiera | Authentic Italian Easter Pie Recipe

Updated: Mar 24

Pastiera is a southern Italian Easter classic, hailing from Naples. It's our favorite dessert of all time, 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.


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Pastiera | Italian Easter Pie Recipe


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.


Pastiera Variations


There are a few variations on the classic pastiera that we've come to be big fans of. Each involves replacing the cooked wheat (which can be tricky to find) with a different ingredient. For an almost identical effect, use rice; for a unique texture and presentation, use angel hair pasta; and for an incredible flavor boost use bread! Scroll to the bottom of the recipe for a guide on how to make each version.


All of these alternatives use the same dough, filling ingredients, cook time, etc. All you have to do is follow the instructions to replace the cooked wheat/milk mixture.


Watch the Pasta Grammar video where Eva makes Pastiera here:




PASTIERA 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!


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 (or see below for some alternatives)

  • 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 cooked wheat 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 cooked wheat 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, leaving as little excess dough as possible to avoid burning.




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.


Buon appetito!



Pastiera Variation #1: Rice


Combine 1 ¼ cups (300 g) arborio rice, 6 ⅓ cups (1.5 L) whole milk and a pinch of cinnamon in a small pot. Bring the milk to a very gentle simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all of the milk. At this stage, the rice should be quite soft and a little beyond "al dente." If it still has some bite to it, add a little extra milk and keep cooking until it softens.


Spread the rice flat on a baking sheet and let it cool to room temperature. When making your pastiera filling, replace the cooked wheat/milk/butter mixture with the rice.


Pastiera Variation #2: Pasta


In a large pot of salted water, boil 17.5 ounces (500 g) angel hair pasta for 45 seconds. Drain and transfer into a large mixing bowl, and stir in 2 ⅛ cups (500 ml) cold, whole milk. Let the pasta cool to room temperature.


When making your pastiera filling, replace the cooked wheat/milk/butter mixture with the pasta and milk.


Pastiera Variation #3: Bread


Cut 14 ounces (400 g) homemade bread (preferably slightly stale) into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks. Place them in a large bowl and fill with whole milk to barely cover the bread. Let the bread soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the excess milk and crumble the bread by hand.


When making your pastiera filling, replace the cooked wheat/milk/butter mixture with the crumbled, milk-soaked bread.


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.



13 Comments


crisafullister
Apr 06

@PastaGrammar at 06:53 orange and lemon zest is added to the filling but is it not in the recipe. How much zest is added?

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Kathy Sullivan
Kathy Sullivan
Apr 05

I have had trouble distinguishing the orange blossom water and the Fiore d’arancio. Ava clearly states do NOT use the orange blossom water. That being said I do not know what the water tastes like. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I am waiting on the fiore d’arancio to arrive. I bought it on Amazon. I made the rice version for Easter but was not thrilled with the recipe I used. So I am trying it again with Ava’s Recipe. So delicious 😋

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Amir  Levi
Amir Levi
Mar 29

You can actually replace the jared cooked wheat with wheat you cook by yourself. I did it several times and it works. Found a recepie online

Just get wheat grains, submerge in water for 24 hours and cook in water for 90 minutes. Then cook it in milk, butter and citrus peel until it is thicken and run an immersion blender through it all to make a creamy texture

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Lou LR
Lou LR
Mar 28

Anyone know where to buy the candied Citron in Toronto

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Lou LR
Lou LR
Apr 01
Replying to

I can’t seem to find candied citron, any idea where to purchase it?

Amazon has lemon orange not sure which one to get and is it covered in sugar?

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Mason Combs
Mason Combs
Mar 28

I add cooked rice to muffins in addition to other add-ins. It really adds texture and interest. Looking forward to trying your recipe. I'm going to try the rice version first since you said it tasted good that way. Then the pasta and bread version. Thank you!!

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