Saturday, April 3, 2010

La Pastiera - a Must for Easter

In Campania, la pastiera, is dessert that MUST be served during the Easter season.  Each paese, town, has their own version, and I'd like to pass on one from Avellino.  Flavia Pappalardo of Tenuta Montelaura prepares it this way. The Avellinese pastiera, particlarly hers, is different from the one prepared in Naples in three ways.
1) In Avellino, wheat takes precedence over all the other ingredients, giving this dessert a  'pizza rustica' quality.
2) She uses ricotta made with goat's milk instead of cow's milk. which gives it a stronger flavor.
3)A splash of Strega liqueur.

Here is the complete recipe:

Ingredients for a pastiera (2.kg)
200 gr. of grano crudo (a 'raw wheat'-not easy to find in the  supermarket, which is equivalent to 600g of grano cotto which comes in a jar)
300 grams of wheat flour OO
350g sugar  
9 eggs 
500 gr of ricotta
½ liter of whole milk 
180 grams of lard 
1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon powder 
80 g mixed candied fruit
40 grams of orange blossom water 
1 glass of Strega liqueur
powdered sugar 
1 pinch of salt.



Procedure:
It 's better to soak the grano crudo at home instead of buying it in the jar , it gives the pastiera a stronger flavor. If you choose to use grano crudo, it must soak  in cold water for at least 10 days, and  the water must be changed every day. Afterwards, drain, place in a saucepan with the milk and the grated rind of lemon and let it cook until the milk has absorbed into the grain.  Let it cool. In the  meantime, prepare the pasta frolla with flour, 150 gr sugar , 3 egg yolks and 150g of lard, knead vigorously until mushy and homogenous, wrap in a sheet of plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Now you are ready to make the filling for the pastiera,  tso chop the candied fruit , pour into a bowl, combine the remaining sugar, orange blossom, ricotta,  Strega,  and a pinch of cinnamon. Start working by adding the 6 egg yolks, one at a time and finally the grano (now cotto). The last ingredient to be added are the egg whites with a pinch of salt.  Get the pasta frolla, roll it out to form a disk, then place it in a circular cake pan which has been greased with lard. Now add the filling that you prepared previously.
Put strips of dough on top and bake in the oven at 180 ° C for 1 hour. When it is golden brown remove it from the oven and let it cool (sprinkle with powdered sugar if you prefer).

If you are interested in other recipies, or are looking for a nice day trip about 45 minutes from Naples, check out  http://www.tenutamontelaura.it/

Enjoy!!


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