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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Pastiera di Pasqua (Italian Easter Flan)

Ok so this post is a bit belated, actually it is very belated, but there is no way I could not blog about one of the nicest Italian Easter treats, which is especially popular in the Naples area.

Actually Naples is where Pastiera originated. It is safe to say, that as much as Strufoli are associated with Christmas, then undoubtedly the Pastiera {passt-ear-AR} belongs to Easter, and especially to Good Friday.

Essentially this is a type of custard cheesecake, consisting of ricotta cheese combined with a custard mix, and with cooked wheat, and flavoured citrus zest running through it. When this mixture is eaten in combination with the shortcrust pastry it is absolutely delightful. And it is no surprise this became so popular.

Again as is usual for one of my recipes, I will mention a few of the ingredients. As I have found in the UK, cooked wheat is not always very simple to source (the effort is however, worthwhile), but if its an impossible task, you could substitute wheat, with cooked rice and you can get a similar textural effect.

In addition if you can't find candid orange zest, you could make your own by boiling orange peel in sugar water, for around 10 minutes, draining and then leaving the peel in sugar for a few days. After shaking off the excess sugar, you can store them in sealed jars where they will keep for ages (probaby forever).

Another note, and as many Italians do, this can be made a few days in advance, and kept quite happily in the fridge, if anything the flavour improves over time, so if you can, it is worth doing. However a word of warning, if your anything like me, the possibility of leaving something like this lurking in the fridge without eating it, is absolutely zero.

(Serves 6)

Short Crust Pastry, enough to line two 6" flan cases. Approximately in practice, this will be around 400g (14 oz). Readymade is fine, or you can make your own using 2 eggs, 100g (4oz) white flour, 100g  (4oz) of butter. Just combine together and chill for 30 minutes in the frigde prior to using.

250g (8 oz) White granulated sugar,
150g (5 oz) cooked wheat,
500g Ricotta cheese
30g (1 oz) chopped crystalized orange zest (candid peel),
pinch of cinnamon
100ml (4 oz) milk
15g (half oz) butter
3 eggs and 1 extra yolk
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
half a lemon, zest only
milk and egg mixture for brushing onto pastry


- In a milk pan, pour the milk and butter, and into it add the lemon zest and the cooked wheat. Then bring to a simmer over a gentle heat, and cook for around 20 minutes. You can then set this aside.

- Meanwhile in a mixing bowl add the ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla, crystalized orange zest, cinnamon, and rest of ingredients (not the pastry of course) and combine together.

-Next fold together the ricotta cheese mixture into the slightly warm milk pan contents, being gentle but thorough to make sure everything is well mixed.

-Line the flan dishes with the pastry leaving some overlapping the edge, but make sure to keep some of the pastry aside to decorate the top with.

-Next pour the mixture into the flan dish(es), fold the sides slightly over, and decorate the top by making 1" strips of pastry. Criss-Cross these over the top, you can prick the top with a fork, and brush with some milk and beaten egg to get a pretty glaze.

-Then place carefully in the middle of a medium heat oven (Gas Mark 4/ 175C / 350F), and bake the pastiera for approximately one hour, keep checking after 40 minutes, until it is golden brown and set.

-To serve, dust the top liberally with icing sugar. So as is traditional, its time to share some awful camera phone pics, and yes I do have a digital camera, but it is in the cupboard, and im very lazy.

As mentioned this does store very well in the fridge, so it is worthwhile making in advance. Although traditionally eaten at Easter, I see no reason why you couldn't eat this at other times of the year, just don't mention it to any Italians.  Enjoy!


Joanne said...

This cake is one of my favorite parts of easter! I'm so glad you posted the recipe for it. Actually I'm so glad you posted period! I've been missing your posts!

Ana Powell said...

Thanks for sharing your Italian Easter flan, I would eat it at any time of the year.
Really delicious ♥

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that- it's really hard to find seasonal cakes around Easter time...Catholic countries are usually good for this type of thing, but even so they seem to be regional well-kept secrets and short of prying them out of 'nonnis' I don't know where to source them from!
I think this filling is a bit like Russian pashka (also an Easter pudding), isn't it?

Irene Navas said...

aqui no tenemos tartas tan explendidas en pascua, pero si tenemos un postre que se le llama mona de pascua, parecida al roscon de reyes!un beso!

An Open Book said...

hey there..thanks for dropping by my blog..u have some amazing recipes...this flan sounds interesting..better late than never rt? :)

Kim said...

Glad to see you post again! This looks like a great dessert and like you, I would never be able to let this sit in the fridge very long at all. I have a huge sweet tooth and desserts never last long around me. Hope you and your family are doing well!

Better Foodie said...

Wow! yum

Lauren Zabaneh said...

This looks camera or not!:) I love it whenever I find recipes from Napoli. Near and dear to my grandma was from Napoli and when we would visit Italy it was there that we spent the most time. I can't wait to try this and the lasanga. Thank you for sharing and following my blog! cheers!

Luigi said...

Thanks for all your kind comments! Again everyone is too nice! And Lauren your very welcome, its a great blog...

Ann Minard said...

I am so glad you posted this recipe! My Dad is from Naples and talks about this all the time. He is moving here next year and I will make this for him next Easter, he will be so happy!

lucy said...

girando di qua e di là non potevo non notare il tuo blog.non sono del sud per cui non posso giudicare con precisione se hai fatto tutto come da tradizione ma a vedere la foto mi viene una gran fame!

Aleksandra said...

Luigi nice cake! You have talent!

I'd like to tell you something: I am cooking BIGOS now :).
I will try to put recipe tomorrow.

Carla and Michael said...

That is one fine looking cake. Not quite sure what you mean by 'cooked wheat' though. Can you explain it a little more?

velva said...

Delicious. Happy belated Easter to you.

Luigi said...

Hello Carla e Micheal, Cooked wheat is called "Grano Cotto" in Italian.

Its a sweetened grain/wheat it normally comes in a jar. An Italian deli should know what it is. Otherwise other solution is to search online for a supplier locally, or use a cooked pudding rice instead.

Hope that helps a little.

Mari said...

yums that cake looks amazing! I think I might have to make Joanne make it for me lol...

how are you? and the baby and wife?? we need some new pictures lol

Luciana said...

Buonissima la pastiera!!! è davvero un piacere al quale difficilmente si riesce a rinunciare!!! un bacio, Luciana

Linda said...

This looks delicious! I am glad I found your blog! I will be checking it often.

Erica said...

This sounds and looks like a wonderful dessert!Soooooo good!

Patricia Scarpi said...

Olá Luigi.

Adorei a sua visitinha no meu blog.
Qual comida tipica italiana você me sugere.
È que vou de férias para Italia no mês que vem e gostaria de uma sugestão sua.


Gianna said...

Ohhh mi sembra affascinante questo blo. Non trovo il gadget followers, per questo, mi sono subscrita:

elena simari said...

How much ricotta cheese do you use?

Luigi said...

Sorry for the late reply Elena, it is approximately 500g of Ricotta.

Adjust quantity to achieve consistency you like, but that quantity works for us.

Well spotted, very embarassing I forgot to list how much!! :)

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