Naples and Campania region is of course famous for Pizza, but thinking about dessert and cakes , one of the first that come into my mind is Pastiera.
The pastiera is a typical Neapolitan pastry that is prepared mainly at Easter.
It's eventough true that at any time of the year you are in Naples, you can enjoy it, but the peak of production is precisely the Easter period.
It's a pretty complex recipe, which requires a bit of time to prepare and to cook, but I assure you that the result is truly exceptional!
The dose is for 4-5 pastiere. Do not just make one ... you will eat them all, I can assure you :-)
I recommend you first to read the entire recipe and then start step by step.
Preparation of wheat:
1 kg of wheat, 2 tablespoons sugar, zest of one lemon, 2 packets of vanilla, a knob of butter, milk to taste
Rinse the wheat, cook it covered with milk with the lemon zest, sugar, vanilla and butter.
Stir constantly and keep it on the fire until it reduces "to jelly."
Preparation of the cream:
1 liter of milk, 8 tablespoons sugar, 1 pound of starch (cornstarch), 8 egg yolks, the zest of a fresh lemon, 2 packets of vanilla.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until you get a cream; add milk and put on fire by adding the grated lemon zest, vanilla and starch. Stir constantly until the cream thickens.
Preparation of the dough:
1 kg of flour, 500 gr. cold butter, 500 gr. sugar, 8 egg yolks, 2 cups of brandy. Mix the ingredients (I usually do it with the food processor) until it forms a ball. Wrap it in a towel and let it rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Preparing the filling:
1 kg of cottage cheese (preferably ricotta), 250 g sugar, 1 liter of cream (you prepared earlier), candied fruit, cinnamon, wildflower water, 4 egg yolks, 12 egg whites, soaked wheat
Mix the cream, cottage cheese and sugar. Add the wheat, the egg yolks, the candied fruit, a few drops of wildflower water and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Eventually incorporate the stiff egg whites making sure to stir from the bottom up so that the mixture will not deflate.
Roll out the pastry on baking sheets and making sure that the edges are nice and high resistant.
Overthrow the mixture into the dough and finish decorating with strips of pastry (like pies).
Bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for an hour and a half.
The pastiera should be cooked slowly and for a long time as the compound is very moist and the dough on the bottom should not remain raw.
My advice is to check the cooking occasionally. In case, lower a bit the oven temperature (especially if it is seen that the upper part darkens) and lengthen the cooking time.
Now, after all this work, you deserve a slice!!