Neapolitan ‘pastiera’ cake

What could be better than a party during which one savours specialties prepared with love, and which give genuine pleasure to you and your guests, combining traditional ingredients to make spectacular desserts? The Neapolitan ‘pastiera’ cake is an Easter specialty from Campania but now eaten throughout Italy. It is made with a pastry base filled with soft cheese, sugar, eggs, candied fruit and wheat cooked in milk. The unique taste of this Neapolitan cake was traditionally conferred by the aroma of orange blossom although, increasingly, you are likely to find alternative versions on sale. Use a mould with fairly high sides and cook the cake for at least an hour to make sure the filling sets to perfection. To learn how to make this cake, follow the recipe for shortcrust pastry in our cookery school!

Ingredients

  • Italian 00 flour 400 grams
  • sugar 400 grams
  • butter 260 grams
  • eggs 5 units
  • salt To taste
  • ricotta cheese 350 grams Buffalo
  • orange flower extract 1 unit
  • wheat 250 grams Cooked
  • milk 600 millilitres
  • vanillin 2 sachets
  • candied fruit 100 grams Mixed
  • icing sugar To taste
Information
60 minutes Total time
60 minutes Active time
Serves 12 persons
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Preparation

First of all, bring the milk to the boil and add the cooked and drained wheat. Mix with 40g of butter and the sachets of vanillin. Stir and cook until the milk is completely absorbed. Meanwhile, prepare the pastry by mixing the flour with 200g of diced, softened butter, 150g sugar, 2 eggs and a pinch of salt. Knead the dough quickly until you have a smooth dough and then let it stand in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll it out into a sheet, not too thin, and use two-thirds to line a circular 26cm cake tin. Prepare the filling by mixing the ricotta with the sugar, add the cooled wheat and the remaining 3 eggs. Mix everything together and then add the orange blossom essence and mixed candied fruit. Pour the filling onto the pastry base, level it off and decorate with strips of pastry from the dough made earlier. Bake the cake at 180°C and cook for at least an hour. Let it cool completely and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Tips
The original Neapolitan ‘pastiera’ cake required the use of fresh wheat: you can now buy ready-cooked wheat, which greatly simplifies the recipe.
Trivia
According to legend, the mermaid Parthenope, who lived in the Gulf of Naples, emerged every spring from the water to cheer the people with her melodious song, and they paid her back with gifts such as flour, water, orange flower, sugar and eggs. One day the siren gave these gifts to the gods, who in turn made a delicious cake. So was born the ‘pastiera’.

Step by step

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