I have adapted this classic Easter dessert so you can make it easily in your home in North America with readily available ingredients! It's a delicious cross between a cheesecake and a custard pie!
Short pastry crust
- 250 gm Flour All purpose or "00"
- 125 gm unsalted butter cold, cut in cubes
- 100 gm granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 50 gm ice water
- 1 gm baking powder
- 1 tsp lemon zest finely zested
- 250 gm Grano Cotto *see notes for substitutions
- 250 gm ricotta cheese smooth, sheep or cow's milk
- 250 gm granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs seperated, whites whipped seperately
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. orange flower water **see notes for substitutions
- 2 lemons zested finely zested, less 1 tsp for crust
- 35 gm candied orange ***optional
Prepare the day ahead
- *If you can't find Grano Cotto, a prepared Italian ingredient for this recipe you can substitute 1 of the following: 100 gm of raw Barley, Farro or Arborio Rice. (do this a day ahead and refridgerate)Cook the grain of choice as directed on the package until fully cooked. Measure 250 gm of the cooked grain and add 250 gm of milk to a small suacepan. Add 50 gm of the sugar from the filling and a piece of orange peel. Bring to a boil and then simmer until it thickens and softens the grain fully. (should look and feel like oatmeal) Watch it doesn't stick and add water if necessary. Remove the peel and cool. Use in place of the Grano Cotto.
Make the crust
- Place the cubes of butter in a food processor along with the sugar and pulse a couple of times.
- Add the pinch of salt, lemon zest, baking powder and flour. Mix until all incorporated and the butter is the size of peas.
- Slowly add the water through the feed tube while running the food processor. It will not come together as a dough.
- Pour the contents on the counter and divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3's . Create 2 discs from the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Refridgerate at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile make the filling.
Make the filling
- Place the Grano Cotto or prepared subtitution in the clean food processor bowl. Pulse to break up the grains.
- Add the ricotta and remaining sugar, the lemon zest, vanilla , **orange flower water (if using), candied orange peel (if using) and the 3 egg yolks. Process until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and set aside. ** substitute the zest of 1 orange
- Whip the egg whites in a seperate bowl with a whisk or mixer until stiff.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the ricotta and grain mixture in 3 additions.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Move the rack to the middle.
- Roll out the larger piece of dough into a circle to fit a 22 cm tart pan or spring form pan about 1/2 cm thick. Carefully move to the pan and trim.Roll out the second piece the same thickness and cut 8 strips of dough.
- Prick the prepared dough in the pan with a fork. Pour in the filling. Add 4 strips of dough, spaced across the top, end to end. Place the remaining 4 strips of dough across the top to create diamonds. Pinch the dough where the strips meet the sides of the pan.
- Carefully place the pastiera in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the pan halfway and bake an additional 15-30 minutes or until golden brown and not giggly when the pan is moved gentaly.
- Turn off the oven, open the door partially and let cool.
- Best after 1-3 days to let the flavours meld.