How to make Pastiera, a traditional zesty Easter cake made with shortcrust pastry, bulgur wheat cream, ricotta and candied fruit.
Ingredients for a 24cm round pastiera tin (this is a special mould with gently sloping sides)
For the pastry
- 350g of 00 flour
- 175g of butter
- 175g of granulated sugar
- 4 yolks
- Zest of a lemon or zest of an orange
- A pinch of salt
For the cream of wheat
- 400g of bulgur wheat
- 100ml whole milk
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 5g of butter
- 2 teaspoons of orange blossom water
- Grated zest of an orange
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
For the ricotta cream
- 350g of sheep ricotta
- 125g of granulated sugar
- 100g of candied fruit
- 4 yolks
- 3 egg whites
For the custard
- 200ml whole milk
- 40g granulated sugar
- 30g of 00 flour
- 2 yolks
- 1 vanilla pod
- Zest of a lemon
- Icing sugar to decorate
Prepare the shortcrust pastry
Make a cone of flour on a pastry board and add the sugar and salt, then place the butter softened at room temperature, the lemon or orange zest and the egg yolks in the centre.
Quickly work the ingredients with your hands to form a long roll and cover with cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the cream of wheat
Heat the bulgur wheat, milk, butter, orange zest, 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the orange blossom water and leave to cool and if necessary, strain to get rid of all excess liquid.
Prepare the custard
In a saucepan, bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla pod cut lengthwise, its seeds scraped with a knife and the zest of an untreated lemon. Separately, whip the yolks with the sugar, add the sifted flour.
Remove the pan from the heat, remove the pod from the milk and slowly incorporate it into the egg mixture. Pour the cream back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat until it thickens. Cool completely with cling film in the fridge.
Prepare the ricotta cream
Whip the egg yolks with the sugar and, continuing to whisk, add the well-drained ricotta, the wheat mixture, the candied fruit and the now cold custard. Whip the egg whites until stiff and add them to the cream.
Roll out and line a 24cm pastiera tin with the help of flour with 2/3 of the pastry (there is no need to butter and/or flour the mould). Make it adhere well to the bottom and edges, remove the excess dough by passing the rolling pin on the edges.
Prick the bottom with the edges of a fork then pour in the cream and gently tap the side if the tin to sort out any air bubbles.
Roll out the remaining dough and cut out seven strips of equal size. Place the first 4 until they reach beyond the edge of the pastiera, then cross these with the remaining 3 to create the lattice pattern always reaching the edge of the tine. Remove any excess pastry.
Bake in a static preheated oven at 170° for about 70-75min, the pastiera will be ready when it is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan, without covering and touching it for 2 days as the longer it rests the better it will taste. After 2 days, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.
Always store at room temperature covered with baking paper or under a glass bell. It keeps for about 7 days because of the candied fruit.