La Pastiera, or more commonly know as Pizza Gran, is a Neapolitan grain pie that’s synonymous with Easter. It’s one of my all-time favorite Italian Easter desserts and it’s absolutely delicious!
It’s very similar to an Italian ricotta cheesecake but with the addition of farro (wheat berries). The wheat berries will be easy to find around Easter time. Many supermarkets will be carrying them. So, the search for them shouldn’t be so difficult.
I put a festive twist on this recipe by coloring some of the wheat berries with food dye to speckle the pie nicely and carry along the colorful Easter theme.
The lattice top adds an elegant touch. You can alternatively cover the entire top with a sheet of dough. If you have any leftover dough make some quick directions to add on top making it more festive for Easter. Shapes such as eggs, flowers, bunnies, and chicks should do the trick. Get creative and have some fun! The kids will like this part too.
- 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
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) farro/ wheat berries (soaked overnight)
- 1 cup milk or more
- 2 Tablespoons sugar, plus 2/3 cups
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 pound ricotta cheese
- 4 large eggs (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons orange flower water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped candied orange peel
- food coloring ( 3 Easter colors of your choice) optional
- Confectioner’s sugar
The Glaze (Optional)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla sugar
- Whisk together the egg, milk, and sugar. Combine well until the granules of sugar are dissolved.
- Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar until fluffy. This should take around 3 – 4 minutes.
- Add the egg and yolks gradually beating until their incorporated. Drizzle in the orange flower water. Slowly tap in the dry ingredients and mix until blended. (Do not over mix)
- Place dough on a work surface and shape it into a uniform ball.
- Place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to firm up a little. Remove from the refrigerator and cut away a 1/4 piece of dough. Form this into a perfectly round shape. Make a second round shape with the remaining dough. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
Procedure: Step 1
- Place the farro in a large bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak overnight in the refrigerator. Drain well before using.
- Place the wheat in a medium saucepan and cover with milk by one inch. Add the sugar and 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.
- If coloring, remove about 1 cup of cooled farro. In 3 small separate bowls, add about 1/4 cup of water along with a very scant drop of the food coloring of your choice.
- You want to create a light subtle color in the water. Do this in all three bowls with the Easter colors of your choice. Remember, light and subtle. If the dyed water looks too vibrant, simply dilute it with a little more water. This is the part children enjoy doing.
- Now, divide the cup of reserved farro among your three bowls, making sure that the grains are just submerged. Let this all step for 20-30 minutes. Then carefully drain and proceed with the recipe.
Procedure: Step 2
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Grease and flour a 9-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 farro mixture, and candied orange peel.
- Roll out the larger piece of dough to a 16-inch circle. Drape the dough over the rolling pin. Using the pin help fit it into the pan
- Using your fingers carefully press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, leaving excess dough, which will be trimmed later. Press together any tears to create even edges.
- Pour all the filling into the crust and level off the top.
- 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.
- Evenly brush the top of the pie with the glaze. Only add a very light, even coat.
- Place pie in the refrigerator to set the glaze. ( 10 minutes)
- Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the pie cool in the pan on a rack for 20-25 minutes. Remove the ring of the pan and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.
- Just before serving, dust the top with the confectioner’s sugar.
Tip: This Italian Easter pie is absolutely delicious and well worth all the effort. And, since it’s a pie to celebrate the holiday, I suggest adding some festive Easter designs to the plate for an extra element of fun.