Stella’s Pastiera

April 20, 2011 / Food & Wine
Sant'Agata de' Goti, Campania
(cont’d from here…)

Without a doubt, grano (literally “grain”, i.e. durum wheat) is the characteristic ingredient of this recipe. If you have the time and feel up to the challenge, here’s how you cook the grano from scratch: soak 250 gr of dried durum wheat in cold water for three days, changing it regularly. Rinse it well and fill a pot with enough water to cover the grains by about four inches. Bring the water to a boil and add the grano, cover and cook for one hour. Add enough water to cover the grains again and cook on a low flame for another 3 to 4 hours. During this time check to make sure that it is covered and if necessary add boiling water to cover. When tender, drain the grano and then reweigh the correct amount for the recipe.

If instead you’re like 95% of the pastiera-makers on the planet, buy the pre-cooked grano in jars!

Note that Stella does not use the “Secret Agent of Spring”, but prefers fresh orange and lemon zest. Cinnamon is optional. She also avoids using candied fruits, but incorporates the local tradition of the Sannio, using Strega and Rum.

(Recipe for 2 pies)
Short pastry or pasta frolla used to line the pie pan (to be made the evening before)
On a pastry board or in a mixer blend:
500 gr low-gluten flour
250 gr sugar
250 gr cold butter
3 eggs
one packet of vanilla powder

Lightly knead ingredients together into an elastic dough and wrap in plastic and place in refrigerator overnight.

Pastiera filling:
500 gr fresh ricotta (preferably mixture of cow and sheep)
275 gr cooked grano
200 gr milk
1/2 tablespoon butter
5 eggs
250 gr sugar
½ tablespoon lemon zest
½ tablespoon orange zest
25 gr Strega
25 gr. Rum
2 9” x 1 1/2 “ or 23 x 4 cm round baking tins

Pour the cooked grano into a pot, add the butter and lemon zest and cover with milk. Bring to a slow boil over a low flame, stirring until the mixture becomes a dense cream. Cool.

Beat together the ricotta, sugar, eggs, orange zest, rum and Strega and add to the cooled cream mixture.

Roll the short pastry into a fine crust and line the pie tins. Make sure you have enough extra dough to make the strips that will criss-cross on top.

Add the pastiera mixture to about 1 cm below the edge of the pie crust

Cut 6 strips of dough approximately 1.5 wide and 23cm long. Starting from the middle of the pie, place the first strip across the center and the other two equidistantly between it and the rim of the baking tin. Then turn the pan and place the other three strips at a diagonal to form a diamond pattern in diamond.

Bake at 200° C for one hour. Make it even a few days before Easter and let it sit to allow all its flavors to blend!

Barbara Goldfield

by Barbara Goldfield

Owner of “Savour The Sannio”,, a travel consultancy for central and southern Italy.

14 Responses to “Stella’s Pastiera”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Ooh, that’s a particularly golden one. Beautiful and thanks for the recipe.

  2. Donna Natalini

    Could you please tell me the measurement equal to a “gr.”? I am anxious to thy this. Thanks!

  3. Anne Robichaud

    Barbara..beautiful piece..and love la pastiera..but cannot imagine the work that goes into making it: will continue to have it at Pasticceria Scaturcchio….(corretto?) when in Naples…!
    Buona Pasqua.

  4. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    Such work! only from the heart comes such willingness to please (and show off the talent of the couco)

  5. Jody Della Barba

    If you add a tablespoon of orange flower water it really makes it taste like Spring. I also add citron and candied orange peel.

  6. Lovely, but way too complicated! Thank you for sharing the authenticity of it all.

  7. Was just about to embark on the yearly pastiera tradition. Perfect timing! This recipe looks wonderful. Buona Pasqua a ItalianNotebook e a tutti!

  8. Maria Semprini-DeMartino

    Hi, what is strega? I make a different version but this looks great.

  9. Barbara Goldfield

    Let’s see about the answers to your questions:
    1) Hi Donna – 1 gram = .035 oz
    2) Hello Maria – The yellow liquer Strega deserves a note to itself as it is made in Benevento,in the heart of my beloved Sannio. It is considered a ‘digestivo’ and its canary-yellow color is due to the saffron which is part of the recipe. It is famous all over the world and is used mostly in desserts and on ice cream. If you can’t get Strega, just double up on the rum.

  10. Angela Sopranzi

    Ciao Stella, I have been making the Pastiera from several different recipes that i got from my husband’s family in Marano di Napoli for the past couple of years. I, too, have decided that i do not care for the flavor of the millefiori Madma and so this year, with encouragement from you, I added only orange zest and the rum and strega. My husband tasted the mixture before I put it in the pie shell and said that is the way his grandmother’s used to taste!!! Now, i have to ask you what I did wrong with the crust though. I made it last night and it was really hard this morning, so i let it soften just a LITTLE! Anyway, after several attempts ( I even put in back in the refrigerator, then the freezer), but it still fell apart. So, I had to piece it into the pie plate. We haven’t tasted it yet, but it looks good. It made one large and one small pie. Any advice, anyone??? Was it the flour, the eggs, the butter???? About the Strega….the bottle we have here was a gift from my husband’s cousin in Marano and we had to carry it all the way back to Florida, only to find it in the liquor store!!!

  11. marianna raccuglia

    Interesting story. Love the recipe-I am making a pastiere right now. I Do not use the Fior di Sicilia, just lemon & orange. Thank you! Happy Easter


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