Italian cake

Italian Tarts With Wheat, Ricotta and Orange Flower

Pastiera is found on every Neapolitan table on Easter Sunday (though it is eaten all year round today). It dates back to pagan festivals in Rome celebrating the return of spring, with ingredients such as eggs, symbolising rebirth, or wheat and ricotta, symbolising prosperity. You’ll find whole wheat or spelt grains in health food shops.

  • 50 minutes preparation time
  • 2 hours refrigeration time
  • 20 minutes resting time
  • 50-75 minutes cooking time
  • Makes 6–8 tartlets
  • 1 quantity shortcrust pastry

For the filling

  • 1/5 kg (7 oz) whole wheat or spelt
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) milk
  • 200 g (7 oz) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 g (10½ oz) ricotta (preferably sheep’s milk)
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (preferably unwaxed)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) candied citron, diced
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) candied orange, diced
  • 40 ml (1¼ fl oz) orange flower water, or to taste


Place the wheat in a saucepan with 400 ml (14 fl oz) of water. Bring to the boil and cook for 20–45 minutes, or until the wheat is al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, make the shortcrust pastry according to the recipe and refrigerate it for 2 hours.

Combine the cooked wheat with the milk and 30 g (1 oz) of the sugar in a saucepan over a low heat. Simmer until the milk is almost completely absorbed and the wheat is tender.

Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and the remaining sugar. Whisk in the ricotta, lemon zest and cinnamon. Add the milk–wheat mixture, the candied citrus fruits and the orange flower water.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and leave to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to around a 3 mm ( 1 /8 inch) thickness.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Meanwhile, grease six to eight 8 cm (3¼ inch) tartlet tins and line with the pastry, trimming the overhang with a sharp knife. Prick the bases with a fork and fill with the wheat–ricotta filling. Make strips from the pastry offcuts and lay them on top of the filling in a cross shape.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tartlets are golden brown.


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