Pastiera is a traditional Neapolitan Easter dessert with a mythological origin story: the Neopolitans offered the city’s most precious ingredients–ricotta, citrus, spring eggs, milk and whole grains–to the mermaid Pertenope, who chose the Gulf of Naples as her home, to thank her for her beautiful voice.  The mermaid mixed the offerings together and created the elegant yet humble pastiera. Today the recipe features a sweetened pastry dough, candied citron, ricotta, and whole cooked wheatberries. Here we take advantage of the inherent, subtle sweetness of malted whole Deer Creek grains for a twist on standard wheatberries.

Prep: 1 hr min active time
Cook: 40 min followed by 1 hr
Level: intermediate
Yields: 1 pie, serves 6-10


  • AP flour
  • egg & egg yolk
  • milk
  • butter, cold
  • ricotta
  • confectioners sugar
  • salt
  • pale wheat, spelt, rye, or triticale (cooked for 40 min in water)
  • citrus zest
  • optional: candied citron
  • optional: cinnamon or cardamom

Make the crust. Sift together:

  • 2 ½ c AP flour
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

Chop and pinch 1 1/2 sticks butter into dry ingredients.

Mix together and add 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, zest from one citrus, and water as needed so that when you press the dough together with your hands it holds together. Divide the dough into 2 pieces: one with 1/3 of the dough, the other with 2/3. Wrap each piece separately in plastic, rolling flat to compress. Chill.

Make the filling. In a saucepan, simmer the cooked whole grains with 3/4 c milk  and 2 T butter until thickened into a pudding-like consistency. Cool.

Whip together:

  • cooked whole grain pudding
  • 1 # ricotta
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs & 2 yolks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Optional: candied citron
  • Optional: cinnamon or cardamom

Assemble. Unwrap the larger piece of dough and roll out to fit into your pie or springform pan. Trim the edges and add them to the smaller piece of dough. Pile the filling into the shell and spread evenly to the edges.

Roll out the second piece of dough thinly and cut into strips. Lay the strips on top of the filling and pinch into the dough shell to create a grid pattern. Brush the dough with whipped egg or an egg yolk & cream mixture for extra glossiness.

Bake. Place pie in the fridge or freezer while preheating oven to 400F. Once preheated, load the pie and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350F and continue baking for an additional 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness by checking for an internal temperature of 200F, or insert a sharp knife into the center and make sure only a film of cooked custard lines the blade when removed.

Serve. Cool completely. Serve at room temperature. This pie stores well in the fridge for several days, and perhaps even tastes better after a day.