Saturday, April 9, 2011

Carmela Soprano's La Pastiera - Easter Ricotta Pie, Italian Style

Okay... we're in the homestretch for Easter.
Time to get back to basics.
I'm not talking theology.
Nope.
Something more important.

Even people who aren't religious - the C & E relatives - are expecting you to do your bit for their holiday enjoyment.

It's time to start pulling out the Easter recipes.


Last April I just gave a quick comparison of Carmela Soprano's La Pastiera (also known as Easter Dessert Pie) and my Ma's Qassatat ta I-Irkotta.
A half dozen sentences or so and I was done.
What was I thinking?


I've learned my lesson.
Snarky comments can't cut it.
Not for the holidays.
We're all in the holiday mood and ready to kill.

Here's the link for the recipe for Ma's Qassatat ta I-Irkotta.
And below is the recipe for La Pastiera, from the Holidays chapter of Carmela's Entertaining with The Sopranos.

I don't know where Carmela bought orange flower water.
I used orange juice.
No, not fresh, as Carmela suggested as a substitute.
From concentrate.
It's Lent.
I'm hungry.
Don't push me.


The recipe's not that hard to follow.
It does take three, four days.
Not involving you, just stuff sitting in a fridge.
Plan ahead.


If you're nervous about things like cholesterol, it's a killer.
Lots of butter and eggs.
Well, what else would you expect from Carmela Soprano?
You've been warned.


Some hints:
The hulled wheat can be found in Italian markets and health food store.
Carmela also used 3 Tablespoons orange flower water.
Good luck with that.
If the dough mixture seems dry, add a spoon or two of ice water.
If all the eggs in the recipe scare the bejesus out of you, try my pie crust recipe.
The wrapped pie can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving.


                        La Pastiera

Serves 8 - 10

Day one before baking:

Soak in cold water to cover
4 ounces (1/2 Cup) hulled wheat
Refrigerate overnight.

The next day:

Drain the wheat and place it in a medium saucepan.
Add
fresh cold water to cover.
1/2 teaspoon salt
Over medium heat bring to a simmer.
Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
Drain the wheat and place it in a large bowl.
Stir in
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Stir until the butter melts.  Let cool.


The Filling
Beat together in a large bowl
1 15-ounce container of ricotta
4 large eggs
2/3 Cup sugar
3 Tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Stir in
the wheat mixture
1/2 Cup very finely chopped candied citron
1/2 Cup very finely chopped candied orange peel
Cover and refrigerate.


The Dough
In a large mixer bowl beat until light and fluffy
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Cup confectioners' sugar
Add
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
Beat until smooth.
Beat in
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Add
3 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix until a dough forms.
Shape 1/4 of the dough into a disk.
Shape the remaining dough into another disk.
Wrap each disk in plastic wrap.
Chill 1 hour, or overnight.


The day of baking:

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350ยบ
Butter and flour a 9 x 3-inch springform pan.
Tap out the excess flour.

Roll out the larger piece of dough to a 15-inch circle.
Drape the dough over the rolling pin.
Carry the rolling pin to over the prepared pan.
Fit the dough into the pan.
Flatten any wrinkles.
Scrape the filling into the pan.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough to a 10-inch circle.
Cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips.
Lay half the strips 1 inch apart over the filling.
Give the pie a quarter turn and place the remaining strips on top.
Press the ends of the strips against the dough on the sides of the pan firmly to seal.
Trim the excess dough.

Beat together
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water
Brush the lattice top with the egg mixture.
Bake for 70 minutes.
The pie should be golden brown on top and the filling should puff up.
Cool the pie in the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the sides of the pan.
Let the pie cool completely.
Wrap the pie in foil or cover, and refrigerate at least overnight.

The day of serving:

Just before serving sprinkle with
Confectioners' sugar



Would I make La Pastiera again?
No way.
My Sicilian Aunts never made it.
My doctor would kill me.


La Pastiera was mentioned - briefly, I know - last year.
So, it isn't part of the countdown.
There's still twenty-five more to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment