Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Lunch in Italy : Pastiera Napoletana

And finally the dessert for our Easter lunch.
This year we have chosen the most typical in Italy : Pastiera Napoletana.
The "Pastiera" is a tart always eaten at Easter-time in Naples. It is made from an old recipe which has 2 particular ingredients which make it unique: moisture taken from the orange tree blossom and cooked wheat. Also used in the recipe are "ricotta" cheese, candid fruit and classic short pastry. It’ s easy to prepare, but it requires a little time and patience.
The Pastiera was used during the pagan celebrations of the return of the Spring time. The modern pastiera, was probably invented in a Neapolitan convent. A nun wanted that cake, symbol of the Resurection, to have the perfume of the flowers of the orange trees which grew in the convent’s gardens. She mixed a handful of wheat to the white ricotta cheese, then she added some eggs, symbol of the new life, some water which had the fragrance of the flowers of the spring time, cider and aromatic Asian spices.
Today every good Neapolitan housewife considers herself to be the one to have the authentic recipe of Pastiera.
The Pastiera has to be cooked with some days advance, no day later than Maudy Thursday or Maudy Friday, in order to allow the fragrances to mix properly to have as a result that unique taste.

Pastiera Napoletana
For the pastry

300 g flour
150g sugar
150g butter
2 eggs

For the filling
500g ricotta cheese
250g precooked durum wheat
200g sugar
40g orange-blossom water
½l milk
6 eggs
1 lemon

Pour the precooked durum wheat into the boiling milk with the peel of half a lemon, cinnamon, a spoonful of sugar and a little salt. Boil for about 30 minutes (until all the milk is absorbed). Then pour it onto a plate, remove the lemon and leave to cool. Meanwhile prepare the pastry and place it in the fridge for an hour.Mix the ricotta, sugar,cinnamon, grated lemon peel and orange-blossom water. Add the 6 egg yolks, one at a time, then the durum wheat and the stiffly-whisked egg whites. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry into a disc and line the bottom and the sides of a cake-tin with it. Pour on the filling and then cover with strips of pastry. Place in the oven at 180°C for 1½ hours. Leave to cool and then sprinkle with icing-sugar. Serve after one day.

Magi & Gio are breaking the Family Chocolate Egg, after Easter Lunch !!

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