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Wheat Berry Easter Cake
"La Pastiera Napoletana"
(Serves 8-10)
Italian Wheat Berry Cake
Pastiera, the ultimate Neapolitam Easter dessert, is a sweet and creamy custard pie with whole
grain wheat berries and bits of candied orange and lemon peel suspended inside a lattice-topped
pastry crust.  A delicate scent of orange flower water lends a subtle hint of spring.  Pastiera is also popular in Rome and throughout southern Italy.  The wheat berries in the filling represent the
rebirth of spring.
Ingredients:

Filling:
1/2 cup soft wheat berries
1/2 cup butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 pound ricotta cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange-flower water
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ounces finely chopped candied orange peel
2 ounces finely chopped candied lemon peel

Dough:
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons orange-flower water

Directions:

At least 8 hours in advance:
Cover wheat berries with water in a small bowl.
Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain.


To make the dough:
Combine flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, yolks, and orange-flower water. Add the flour mixture and beat on low until well combined.
The dough will be very soft.  Gather it into a ball. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Form one part of the dough into a 3-inch round disk. Combine the remaining dough into a 6-inch round disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.


To make the filling:
Cover drained wheat berries with water in a small saucepan. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a bowl. Stir in butter and orange zest.  Allow to cool. In another bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, sugar, orange-flower water, cinnamon, and candied peels. Stir in the wheat berries.  Set aside.


To bake the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger dough disk to a 14-inch round.
Fit dough into an ungreased 9- to 10- inch springform pan. Press the dough up the sides to the rim.  Patch dough if it tears as it is very fragile. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Spoon filling into chilled dough in pan. Roll out smaller dough round to a 10-inch round. Cut dough into 1-inch wide strips for the lattice top. Arrange half of dough strips 1-inch apart on top of filling. Arrange remaining strips diagonally over them to form a lattice. Fold edge of crust over ends of strips. Bake 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until pastry is golden and filling is puffed. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake and remove side of pan. Cool cake completely on rack. Serve at room temperature.

Cake can be made one day ahead and refrigerated, covered.
Bring to room temperature before serving.
Wheat Berry Easter Cake
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HOLIDAY RECIPES  >  ITALIAN EASTER  >  WHEAT BERRY EASTER CAKE
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