Recipe for Neapolitan Easter Cake


    Neapolitan Easter Cake (La Pastiera di Grano - Italy)

    8 ounces hulled wheat berries from soft wheat
        (available in Italian markets and health food stores)

    Place the wheat in a large bowl, and let soak overnight in a cool place.

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup confectioners sugar' sugar
    1 large egg
    1 large egg yolk
    1 teaspoon orange flower water

    Combine flour, cinnamon and salt.

    In a large bowl, beat butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat until smooth. Beat in orange-flower water, add dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Shape dough into 2 disks, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight.

    1/2 teaspoon salt
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    1 teaspoon grated orange zest
    1 pound (2 cups) whole milk ricotta cheese
    4 large eggs
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    3 tablespoons orange flower water
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup chopped candied citron
    1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel
    Up to 1 cup milk (optional)
    Confectioners' sugar

    Drain soaked wheat and place it in a saucepan with salt and water to cover. Simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until wheat is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and place in large bowl. Stir in butter and orange zest. Let cool.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a large bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, sugar, orange flower water and cinnamon. Beat until blended, stir in wheat mixture, citron, and orange peel. Mixture should resemble a medium-thick porridge. If it is too stiff, thin with a little milk. Roll out larger piece of dough to a 15-inch circle. Fit into a 13 x 9-inch springform pan. Pour in filling and smooth the top. Roll out remaining dough into 10 inch circle, cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips (with a fluted pastry cutter, if possible). Place the strips over the filling in a lattice pattern. Press ends against the bottom pastry to seal. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until well-browned on top.

    Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove rim of pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.

    Makes 12 servings, or more, this is a very heavy cake.