We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Pastiera?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Pastiera is a classic dessert dish in Neapolitan Cuisine (cooking originating from Naples). It is sometimes called wheat pie or wheat cheese cake, since it utilizes some unusual ingredients in the filling, semolina wheat and ricotta cheese. Like many Italian desserts, the result is not overly sweet, but the combination of flavors is thought by many to be exceptionally delicious.

Though pastiera can be called a cake, it is really more of pie, made with a pastry crust. The crust is rich, usually a combination of butter or lard, flour, eggs, and sugar. Typically the dessert is cooked in a springform pan and the crust has to be sturdy enough to stand on its own once removed from the pan.

The filling for pastiera represents a combination that may be unfamiliar to American palates. Ricotta cheese, cooked semolina (Cream of Wheat® can be used instead), eggs, lemon juice, butter, sugar, crystallized orange peel, citron, cinnamon and vanilla are mixed together to create the typical filling. The semolina should be allowed to cool before being mixed with the other ingredients, so the eggs don’t cook and the bottom pastry crust is not heated. Generally, the top crust is latticed, which takes a little extra time to make, but creates an attractive appearance.

Though pastiera is now most associated with Easter, and may even be called Easter pie, food historians believe the first versions were made to celebrate pagan rites of spring, and especially in honor of the goddess, Ceres. Another legend associated with pastiera was that it was created to celebrate the beautiful singing of the mermaid, Partenope. She would emerge each spring and her music delighted the villagers. They created a dish to honor her lovely singing, one as sweet as her voice, or in alternate versions, Partenope gave the ingredients of the pastiera to the God and Goddess of the sea and they created the Neapolitan dessert.

As Catholicism swept Italy, many of the pagan rituals were reinvented and incorporated into Christian beliefs. Easter in particular, the celebration of Christ rising from the dead, is connected to the earlier ideas of rebirth and renewal brought by each spring. Thus pastiera was still quite welcome by Christians, though in its present form it may have been created closer to the 8th or 9th century by nuns at the San Gregorio Armeno monastery and convent.

A newer version of the pastiera, invented by Starace, combines most of the ingredients with a pastry cream, which makes the filling lighter. You may find both versions in Italian bakeries a few days before Easter. Allowing the dessert to sit for a few days so the flavors develop more depth is considered traditional and highly desirable.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.