Neapolitan Grain Pie (Pizza Gran)
La Pastiera is typically an Easter holiday pie, perhaps better known as a Neapolitan grain pie. In my family, we refer to it as "Pizza Gran". This is one of my father's favorite holiday desserts and it will always remind me of him. I can't remember an Easter holiday without this traditional pie!
In my family, my nanny would serve the "Pizza Gran" along side some fresh Italian pastries from Brooklyn. The adults would all be sipping their espresso with anisette and telling stories of the past. I can remember my nanny making sure I always got a piece of the pie. Nothing but great family memories!
Well, we couldn't find the family recipe for this traditional pie but it is such a part of my family's Easter holiday tradition that I felt it was necessary to add it to my website. We found a great recipe online that I thought was fantastic and it tastes just as good as the ones you'd eat in Naples.
Rich in texture with a soft crust and a sweet ricotta filling........this La Pastiera recipe is an absolute delight.
Although it takes a lot of effort to make, it is well worth it!
Recipe by Michele Scicolone (La Pastiera)
La Pastiera Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons orange-flower water
La Pastiera Filling
4 ounces hulled wheat (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 pound (2 cups) whole or part-skim ricotta
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons orange-flower water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup very finely chopped candied citron
1/2 cup very finely chopped candied orange peel
1. Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and salt.
2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolks and beat until smooth. Beat in the orange-flower water. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended, about 1 minute more.
3. Shape one-quarter of the dough into a disk. Make a second disk with the remaining dough. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour up to overnight.
4. Prepare the filling: Place the wheat in a large bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the wheat.
5. Place the soaked wheat in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover. Add the salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wheat is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, and place in a large bowl. Stir in the butter and orange zest. Let cool.
6. Place the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350[dg]F. Grease and flour a 9 [ts] 3[nd]inch spring form pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, sugar, orange-flower water, and cinnamon. Beat until blended. Stir in the wheat mixture, citron, and candied orange peel.
7. Roll out the larger piece of dough to a 16-inch circle. Drape the dough over the rolling pin. Using the pin to lift it, fit the dough into the pan, flattening out any wrinkles against the inside of the pan. Scrape the filling onto the dough and smooth the top.
8. Roll out the smaller piece of dough to a 10-inch circle. With a fluted pastry cutter, cut the dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Lay the strips across the filling in a lattice pattern. Press the ends of the strips against the dough on the sides of the pan. Trim the dough, leaving 1/2 inch of excess all around the rim, and fold the edge of the crust over the ends of the lattice strips. Press firmly to seal.
9. Bake 1 hour 10 minutes or until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
10. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack 15 minutes. Remove the rim of the pan and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Just before serving, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Store covered with an inverted bowl in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
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