Pastiera

Matthew Fort describes his traditional Italian Easter tart as 'rich, but, thank God, comfortingly light'
By Matthew Fort
Pastiera
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 12
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus chilling and soaking
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 350 g plain flour
  • 150 g sugar
  • 100 g lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

For the filling

  • 100 g plain flour
  • milk, for soaking
  • pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1 pieces thinly pared lemon zest
  • 100 g sugar
  • 200 g sheep's milk ricotta cheese, (see Cook's note below)
  • 250 g candied fruits, including cedro and pumpkin (see Cook's note below)

For the crema

  • 3 eggs
  • 200 ml milk
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp orange flower water
  • 2 tbsp Mandarino liqueur

Tips and Suggestions

Matthew recommends sheep's milk ricotta for authenticity, but you could substitute cow's milk ricotta, if necessary.

Cedro is the candied peel of the citron, a thick-skinned citrus fruit. If you can't find it, you can use candied lemon or grapefruit peel instead.

Method

1. For the pastry: sift the flour onto a work surface. Make a hollow in the centre and add the sugar.

2. Chop the lard into small pieces and add to the flour and sugar.

3. Lightly beat the egg, egg yolk and vanilla essence together and pour into the centre of the dry ingredients. Using a fork, gradually mix the ingredients, drawing in the flour from the sides until the mixture comes together as a dough. Knead the dough with your hands until it is soft.

4. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

5. For the filling: soak the flour in enough milk to moisten, mix in the cinnamon, lemon zest and half a teaspoon of the sugar and allow to soak for 15 minutes.

6. Put the ricotta in a large bowl with the rest of the sugar and the candied fruit, then add the milk-soaked flour mixture and mix well.

7. For the crema: separate the egg yolks from the whites and set each aside.

8. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5.

9. Bring the milk to the boil in a medium saucepan and add the cornflour. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring, until the cornflour has dissolved and the milk has thickened. Let the mixture cool slightly before beating in the egg yolks. Add the orange flower water and mandarino liqueur. Fold the crema into the ricotta mixture.

10. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold them into the ricotta mixture.

11. Roll out the pastry to line a 30cm flan dish. Pour in the ricotta mixture and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Serve cold.

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