PASTIERA / PIZZA GRAN (Italian grain pie ala William Sedutto)
© 1992 M.W. Sedutto
Now this has to be my all time favorite recipe. This is a traditional Easter Holiday pie. There are many variations of this dessert from different regions of Italy. Some use no cinnamon; some use rose water instead of orange, but there all enjoyable. This recipe is Neopolitan. My father used to say that Venice has it’s canals and commerce, Milan it’s art but Naples is the Kitchen of Italy, the place where all the culinary arts of the region come together to create the best combinations of food traits. Nowhere is this more exemplified than in this recipe.
When baking this pie the rich aroma of vanilla, butter and cinnamon laced with the crisp fragrance of orange is truly mouth watering. This anticipation is no less satisfied when the time comes to serve this to your guests. I heartily encourage you to try this dessert. Although a bit more work than your average Boston Crème Pie or Devil’s Food Cake it is a forgiving recipe that even the novice baker should have little difficulty making successfully.
This is a large recipe which makes 1 - 10", 2 - 9" and 3 - 8"
pies or 6 – 9" diam. x 1 1/2" deep pies.
1 1/4 lbs. raw husked wheat (2 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 lbs. sugar (5 cups)
3 lbs. Ricotta cheese
1 qt. custard (see accompanying recipe below).
12 eggs (set aside the whites from 5 of these for the crust, set aside 1 yolk for glazing.)
1/2 tsp. salt
12 drops cinnamon oil (2 in wheat, rest in filling or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon in wheat).
1 1/2 demitasse spoons Boyajinan Orange Oil (this is approx. 1 tsp.) 2 tbsp. Orange extract may be substituted for each tsp. orange oil, although the latter is as much as 5 times stronger.
1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
1 grated Orange rind. Not too fine.
***** Cooking Wheat
It is recommended that this be done the night before making the filling.
Fill pressure cooker to within 2 1/2 inches from top with water. (Approx. 3 qts.)
Dissolve 1/4 cup of vegetable shortening in warm water and blend well with raw wheat.
2 drops cinnamon oil (or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon.)
1 cup of sugar from above ingredients.
Cover and steam for one hour on low heat.
Let cool or stand overnight before using. After setting, the resulting cooked wheat will be very thick, almost solid. Break it up some before blending into filling mix.
Beat egg yolk with 1 tsp. sugar and 1/4 cup of milk.
Set aside (refrigerate) with wetted pastry brush for later
***** Custard (ala Irene Sedutto)
(Good job for the little kinder who want to help.)
2 oz. flour
2 oz. corn starch
1 qt. milk
1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
Mix sugar, flour, salt and corn starch together first.
Add eggs and blend in.
Blend in milk last.
Cook over low heat stirring constantly until thickened with flat edged paddle to prevent sticking on bottom of pan.
This should take 8 to 10 minutes.
Add vanilla after cooking. Custard will thicken upon cooling.
***** Mixing filling and final assembly.
Roll out dough about 3/16" to 1/4" thick and line pie pans allowing ¼ inch over the edge of the pan.
Cream remaining sugar and salt into ricotta slowly to make the Ricotta as smooth as possible.
Blend in custard.
Add wheat, eggs, orange peel, orange extract or oil, cinnamon oil (omitted if you used cinnamon in the wheat) and blend well.
Ladle filling into pie crusts to about 3/8" to 1/4" from top. (Deeper pies will require more room to rise a little during baking.)
Roll out remaining dough and cut into long strips about 3/4" wide.
Brush edges of pie crust well with glazing.
Brush strips with glazing after cutting.
Lift strips carefully and lay over pie in a lattice leaving as much space between strips as they are wide. I usually lay 7 across each way, starting in the middle and laying three more to each side. If edges of pie have dried, retouch with glazing so strips will adhere.
Recommended baking time is about 3 hours in 325ºF oven.
See note 3.
***** Pastiera Crust (Pasta Frolla)
This dough is a staple in Italian Pastry. It can be used to make a variety of cookies and pastry, even turnovers. For ideas on the many applications of Pasta Frolla I’d suggest one of the many books by Nick Maglieri. His “Great Italian Desserts” is excellent.
Ingredients: (See note 1.)
4 lbs Flour (12 cups)
1 1/2 lbs. butter
1 1/2 lbs. sugar (3 cups)
4 whole eggs
5 whites of eggs (from above)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. Vanilla
Cream butter and sugar together, blend in eggs slowly, add vanilla and salt. You should now have a smooth creamy yellow
Fold into this the flour and work together well, let dough rest 30 minutes to 1 hour in bowl covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying. Always keep dough covered with damp towel or wrapped in waxed paper and refrigerate for use later.
Dough may be tested for elasticity by making a crust with approx 1 lb. of dough or a ball about the size of a large orange. Roll this out to about a 14 to 16 inch circle (depending on the size of the pan) and try to line the pie pan with it. If crust breaks easily add a little more egg whites. Be sure to work them in well and let dough rest again for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before working again.