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Pastiera Napoletana.JPG
Type Cake
Place of origin Italy
Region or state Naples
Main ingredients eggs, ricotta, boiled wheat,
Cookbook: Pastiera  Media: Pastiera

Pastiera (pronounced [paˈstjɛːra]) is a type of Italian cake made with eggs, boiled wheat and ricotta cheese.[1] It originates from the area of Naples. It is a typical cake during Easter time.

Mythical origins[edit]

It was used during the pagan celebrations of the return of the Spring time. During these celebrations Cerespriestess brought an egg, symbol of new life in procession. Because of the wheat or the einkorn, mixed with the soft ricotta cheese, it could come from the einkorn bread called "confarreatio", an essential ingredient in the ceremony of the type of ancient Roman weddings named after it "confarreatio". Another hypothesis we may consider is that it comes from ritual bread used, which spread during the period of Constantine the Great. They were made of honey and milk the people offered the catechumen during Easter Eve at the end of the ceremony of baptism.

Origins and tradition[edit]

A slice of pastiera

The modern pastiera was probably invented in a Neapolitan convent. An unknown nun wanted that cake, symbol of the Resurrection, to have the perfume of the flowers of the orange trees which grew in the convent’s gardens. She mixed a handful of wheat to the white ricotta cheese, then she added some eggs, symbol of the new life, some water which had the fragrance of the flowers of the spring time, candied citron and aromatic Asian spices.

We know for certain that the nuns of the ancient convent of San Gregorio Armeno were considered to be geniuses in the complex preparation of the Pastiera. They used to prepare a great quantity for the rich families during Easter time.

There are three different ways of preparing pastiera: in the older, the ricotta is mixed with the eggs or with the rice in the newer, thick pastry cream is added, making the pastiera softer. This innovation was introduced by Starace, a Neapolitan confectioner with a shop in a corner in Municipio Square.

The Pastiera has to be cooked some days in advance, no later than Thursday or Good Friday, in order to allow the fragrances to mix properly and result in that unique flavor. The Pastiera is not only cooked but also sold and served in appropriate pans called "ruoti" because it is very fragile, so it would easily crumble up if removed from the "ruoto".


  1. ^ Buonopane, Marguerite DiMino. North End Italian Cookbook, 5th edition. Globe Pequot. p. 255. ISBN 0762751606. 

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