Pastiera di Pasqua (Italian Easter Flan)


Ok so this post is a bit belated, actually it is very belated, but there is no way I could not blog about one of the nicest Italian Easter treats, which is especially popular in the Naples area.

Actually Naples is where Pastiera originated. It is safe to say, that as much as Strufoli are associated with Christmas, then undoubtedly the Pastiera {passt-ear-AR} belongs to Easter, and especially to Good Friday.

Essentially this is a type of custard cheesecake, consisting of ricotta cheese combined with a custard mix, and with cooked wheat, and flavoured citrus zest running through it. When this mixture is eaten in combination with the shortcrust pastry it is absolutely delightful. And it is no surprise this became so popular.

Again as is usual for one of my recipes, I will mention a few of the ingredients. As I have found in the UK, cooked wheat is not always very simple to source (the effort is however, worthwhile), but if its an impossible task, you could substitute wheat, with cooked rice and you can get a similar textural effect.

In addition if you can’t find candid orange zest, you could make your own by boiling orange peel in sugar water, for around 10 minutes, draining and then leaving the peel in sugar for a few days. After shaking off the excess sugar, you can store them in sealed jars where they will keep for ages (probaby forever).

Another note, and as many Italians do, this can be made a few days in advance, and kept quite happily in the fridge, if anything the flavour improves over time, so if you can, it is worth doing. However a word of warning, if your anything like me, the possibility of leaving something like this lurking in the fridge without eating it, is absolutely zero.

(Serves 6)

Short Crust Pastry, enough to line two 6″ flan cases. Approximately in practice, this will be around 400g (14 oz). Readymade is fine, or you can make your own using 2 eggs, 100g (4oz) white flour, 100g  (4oz) of butter. Just combine together and chill for 30 minutes in the frigde prior to using.

250g (8 oz) White granulated sugar,
150g (5 oz) cooked wheat,
500g Ricotta cheese
30g (1 oz) chopped crystalized orange zest (candid peel),
pinch of cinnamon
100ml (4 oz) milk
15g (half oz) butter
3 eggs and 1 extra yolk
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
half a lemon, zest only
milk and egg mixture for brushing onto pastry


– In a milk pan, pour the milk and butter, and into it add the lemon zest and the cooked wheat. Then bring to a simmer over a gentle heat, and cook for around 20 minutes. You can then set this aside.

– Meanwhile in a mixing bowl add the ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla, crystalized orange zest, cinnamon, and rest of ingredients (not the pastry of course) and combine together.

-Next fold together the ricotta cheese mixture into the slightly warm milk pan contents, being gentle but thorough to make sure everything is well mixed.

-Line the flan dishes with the pastry leaving some overlapping the edge, but make sure to keep some of the pastry aside to decorate the top with.

-Next pour the mixture into the flan dish(es), fold the sides slightly over, and decorate the top by making 1″ strips of pastry. Criss-Cross these over the top, you can prick the top with a fork, and brush with some milk and beaten egg to get a pretty glaze.

-Then place carefully in the middle of a medium heat oven (Gas Mark 4/ 175C / 350F), and bake the pastiera for approximately one hour, keep checking after 40 minutes, until it is golden brown and set.

-To serve, dust the top liberally with icing sugar. So as is traditional, its time to share some awful camera phone pics, and yes I do have a digital camera, but it is in the cupboard, and im very lazy.


As mentioned this does store very well in the fridge, so it is worthwhile making in advance. Although traditionally eaten at Easter, I see no reason why you couldn’t eat this at other times of the year, just don’t mention it to any Italians.  Enjoy!

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