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Original recipe found on a "regional cooking" booklet and altered during the course of many years.

The "pastiera" is a very popular tart, traditionally baked in the region around Naples for Easter - but, in Naples, it's loved at Christmas time too.
The stuffing probably consisted of pasta originally (hence the name!), but nowadays everyone uses boiled wheat.
I'm celiac though, so I use rice instead!
Please keep in mind that this isn't the original traditional recipe - if you want to make a classic pastiera, you will need to use wheat. But - this is a very good alternative, and I enjoy it a lot!
It's not a hard dish to make, but also not the easiest. If you've baked a pie before though, you'll be fine!


For the Shortcrust Pastry:

❧ 500g of flour (I use Schaer's Mix C)
❧ 150g of lard (you can substitute with 170g or so of butter. My family never used lard, so I've always used butter, myself.)
❧ 2 eggs
❧ 300g of sugar
❧ 1 pinch of salt
❧ Depending on taste and ease of access, either orange flower water, vanilla extract, orange zest etc. In this case we used the zest of a couple bitter oranges!

For the Filling:

❧ 400g of ricotta cheese (traditionally sheep ricotta, cow ricotta works too but it's gotta be tasty!) ❧ 150g of rice cooked in milk, water and salt. I always use brown/wholemeal rice, as it has more bite to it. Some people prefer a creamy, omogenous filling though - in that case, amidous white rice is probably best (I have not experimented with it)
❧ 5 eggs
❧ 300g of sugar
❧ 1 vial/dose of "Millefiori Extract". Which, huh, it's such an important ingredient for a pastiera but I can't seem to find an international version of it! If you can find some in an international market then great - otherwise, substitute with a flowery extract/aroma that is available in your area. You'll get a novel take on this tart! :D
❧ A pinch or so of cinnamon (optional)
❧ Candied citron (the little cubes)
❧ A bit of milk if needed


❧ First off: let's get that rice ready. Boil it in salted milk and water (I tend to use 500ml of milk and add in the water as needed, you can also use just milk!). Wholemeal rice takes quite a bit to cook usually. It needs to absorb a good bunch of the water and get soft enough to be edible, even though it will also cook more in the overn. Unless you *really* like the extra bite pf course - in which case do as you please!

❧ Then, you need to make the shortcrust pastry, as if you were making any other pie. You just combine the ingredients together (butter must be room temp, not melted) and work it with your hands until it's a nice sticky sphere!
Then, you divide that sphere in half: one half you will use for the base of the pie, the other for the decorations on top.

❧ From my experience, gluten free pastry does not stretch. I've given up on attempts to stretch it over the pie tin. I just take the half that needs to be used for the base, and manually press it down into the tin, until I've formed a base.
The tin needs to be lined with cooking paper to prevent it from sticking! I usually use clothespins to keep the cooking paper flush to the tin, as I press the dough into shape.
Remember: you don't need to be precise! Be messy about this! Just line it all with dough: it will have to be like a bowl of pastry for what we're about to put in.

❧ Now, the fun part! In a bowl, let's mix the ingredients for the filling.
You gotta wing it a bit. Put in the sugar, melted butter, ricotta cheese, mix them. Then mix in the eggs and aromas, and at the end mix in the rice as well. It should be liquid, but not watery. If it's not quite liquid, add just a little bit of milk!
This mixture goes straight into the pastry "bowl" you prepared earlier, inside the tin.

❧ You then need to decorare it as you would a pie: roll the other half of the pastry with a rolling pin, cut it into long slices, and do your best to carry them intact over the filling. Gluten free pastry does not stretch, so you will probably end up breaking a few of them - it's alright! It won't mess up the taste.
The slices might also end up getting sucked into the filling mixture - that's alright, it just means it was a bit too watery.

❧ Now. The cooking of this tart is a mysterious affair. I tend to put it in the oven at 180°C (not pre-heated, heat from above and below), and after the 45 minutes mark I start checking it more often. It usually cooks in an hour or so, but it will depend on your oven and how liquid was your mixture. You need to wait until the top has gone an orange sort of golden, like in the pictures. Then it's done!

The pastiera needs to be baked 1-2 days before serving! It needs a bit of time to sit and let the aromas permeate everything. So once your oven is cold, put it back in there and be patient for a day or two! Don't worry about it spoiling. It won't last long ;D

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