(= Neapolitan Ricotta and Wheat Tart)
Recommended wine: Zanzarato I.G.T.
Pastiera is a traditional sweet tart from Naples, which is now popular all over Italy. It’s perhaps the most characteristic symbol of Neapolitan confectionary. We’ve included it in this Tuscan-Viallino menu because it’s a typical Easter treat and also because it’s made with ricotta… and, as you may know, in April ricotta plays a leading role at La Vialla.
Put the flour on your work surface, pile it up a create a “well” in the centre and break the eggs (2 whole, plus 1 yolk)into it, add the suet (or softened butter), sugar, vanillin and grated lemon peel. Mix everything together rapidly with cold hands until you obtain a smooth ball (if the dough sticks to your hands too much, use a little flour). Put the ball of dough in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour, wrapped in cling film.
In the meanwhile prepare the filling for the Pastiera: cook the wheat with the milk, diced candied orange and suet in a small saucepan, over a low heat, for roughly 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. When a sort of “cream” has formed, remove it from the heat and let it cool.
Press the ricotta through a sieve into a bowl and mix it with the sugar, eggs, grated orange peel and orange blossom water. Add the cooled, creamy wheat mixture and stir again to amalgamate all the ingredients.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and cut off a piece (roughly a quarter) to use later to prepare the strips that go on top of the filling. Roll out the rest – using a rolling pin – on a sheet of greaseproof paper, shaping it into a disk roughly 3 cm larger than the tin in which you will cook the tart. Lift the greaseproof paper with the dough and slowly tip it upside-down into the flan tin, which you have previously greased with butter and floured. Remove the paper, press the dough against the sides of the tin and cut off any excess. Prick the pastry bottom here and there with a fork, so that it doesn’t rise while cooking. Now pour in the filling you have prepared and level the surface. Take the piece of dough you set aside and roll it out to a thickness of more or less 3 mm. Cut it into strips 2 cm wide and place them, forming a “lattice” pattern, on top of the Pastiera. Beat an egg yolk with half an egg white and 1 tablespoon of milk, and brush this mixture over the strips of dough so that they turn a nice golden brown when cooked. Bake in a preheated oven, at 180 °C, for approximately 1 hour. Use a toothpick to see whether the filling is sufficiently cooked and dry; it should however remain soft and creamy. Take the Pastiera out of the oven and leave it to rest for at least a day. Serve it in its tin, sprinkled with icing sugar.