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Pies and Tarts
Pastiera per Pasqua (Easter pie)
Pastiera per Pasqua (Italian Ricotta Easter pie with pastry cream and barely -- home-made "grano cotto")
Originated from: Sorrento, Campania
Occasion: Easter
Contributed by: Marisa Pastore (her mother's recipe, Mrs. Immacolatina Guida)

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DOUGH (Pasta Frolla)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
150 grams butter (softened)
300 grams flour
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon Magic baking powder


A. Crema Pasticcera filling (Lemon-flavored pastry cream)
7 egg yolks
350 grams sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
7 tablespoons flour
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cups 2 per cent partly skimmmed milk
1 bag of vanilla powder, preferably, "Paneangel Aroma per dolci, Vanillina" (If powdered vanilla is unavailable one can substitute 1 teaspoon clear-colored vanilla)
50 grams softened butter (about 2 tablespoons)

B. Ricotta filling
1 container (475 grams) of ricotta ("Saputo" is the best)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks

C. Home-cooked barley filling (Can be made the night before)*
1 cup uncooked barley
2 cups water
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lard (or butter)

*Alternatively, one could buy in an Italian specialty shop a container (500 grams) of "Grano Cotto per pastiera Napoletana con Miele" and use that instead of making one's own home-made barely mixture.

For Egg Wash
1 egg white
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder

For dusting
about 1 tablespoon icing sugar (optional)

Equipment needed
Large-sized pie pan, about 11 to 12 inches in circumference and 3/4 inch high


For the dough

o Place all the ingredients in a food processor (e.g. Braum) and process the dough until it is smooth.

o Shape into a ball, and let it rest for awhile.

For the filling

I. To make the crema pasticceria filling

o Keep eggs in tepid water for about 8 minutes.

o Separate egg yolks from egg whites.

o Beat egg yolks.

o Add sugar. Stir by hand.

o Slowly add flour.

o Add finely grated lemon zest.

o Add milk. Mix well.

o Add bag of vanilla powder ("Paneangel's Aroma per dolci, Vanillina").

o Add softened butter and mix very well with a wooden spatula.

o Turn on burner on medium high heat (#7).

o Put mixture in a stainless steel pan (L'Agastina brand is very good) and put on burner.

o Using a large whisk, stir mixture while it cooks and thickens. Do NOT let it boil, but it should be warm enough for it to cook through. Keep stirring the mixture for about 15 minutes or until it has the consistency of a thick Italian-style cream.

o Cool.

II. For Ricotta filling

o Mix ricotta and sugar.

o Add egg yolks and mix.

o Put mixture aside.

III. For home-made barely mixture (Can be made the night before)

o Cook barley in 2 cups water for about an hour (all the water should be usurped by the barley; the mixture should be dry, but not burnt).

o Add 2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon lard (or butter).

o Cook for about 1 1/2 hour or until the mixture is dry.

o If one opts to use store-bought barely mixture for pastries then one can forgo the above steps.

To complete the filling

o In a large pot combine the barley, ricotta and pastry cream mixture.

o Mix well.

To make the pie

o Grease a large pie pan with butter (N.B. Because the pie crust is relatively thin and cooks quickly, a large pie pan is essential as this will ensure that the filling will cook through; a thick filling will take longer to cook, making the pie crust easier to burn.)

o Divide the dough into two parts -- a larger portion for the bottom crust, and a smaller portion for the top strips.

o Roll out the dough for the bottom crust to about 1/8 inch thickness.

o Place the rolled out dough on the pan, including on the sides of the pan.

o Add the filling.

o Roll out the second portion of the dough. Cut into strips that will fit the pie pan -- about 10 inches long and 1 inch thick.

o Place the first strip of dough in the middle, then add an additional 2 strips on each side.

o Top the second layer of strips diagonally (see photo).

To make egg wash

o Beat egg white a little.

o Add orange blossom water and cinnamon.

o Mix well.

o Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the strips with the egg wash.

To bake the pie

o Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.

o Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the pie crust is golden and the filling is cooked.

To serve the pie

o Cool the cooked pie.

o Keep in fridge until needed (If the pie will be served in a week or so, one can freeze the pie).

o Dust the pie with icing sugar before serving (optional).


This recipe was often done for the Easter holidays by Maria Elisa's mother, Mrs. Immacalatina (Tina) Guida in the late 1950s. Marisa notes that when she was growing up in Sorrento, Campania cooks preferred to use barely rather than rice in their Easter pies. In fact the use of rice was frowned upon; it was seen as a poor substitute for barely. Also, in Sorrento, unlike in other parts of Southern Italy, butter was often used in the making of desserts. Sorrento was often referred to as "the city of butter...." The pie was made for the Easter holidays by Mrs. Immacalatina Guida's daughter, Marisa Pastore. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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