The wheat berries in this Italian grain pie, known as pastiera, are fitting for the Easter holiday, as they symbolize rebirth and renewal. The grains get soaked in water overnight before they are cooked in milk. Afterward, they are mixed with ricotta cheese and pastry cream to make an exceptionally delicious filling.

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Ingredients

Vanilla Pastry Cream
Crust
Filling

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Vanilla Pastry Cream:

    Bring milk and vanilla seeds and pod to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 20 minutes.

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  • In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually add milk mixture in a slow, steady stream and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.

  • Whisking constantly, slowly pour one-third of milk mixture into egg yolks. Pour mixture into remaining milk in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl; discard solids. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, pressing directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled and firm, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Whisk to soften slightly just before using.

  • Crust:

    In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in orange zest. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. Reduce speed to low, and beat in flour mixture.

  • Divide dough into 2 disks, one larger (approximately two-thirds of dough) and one smaller. Press each piece into a disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 1 day.

  • Filling:

    Place wheat berries in a medium bowl. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Refrigerate overnight.

  • Drain wheat berries, and transfer to a medium saucepan with milk, water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain, and spread on a baking sheet. Let cool about 30 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta and sugar. Add cooled wheat berries and pastry cream. Stir to combine.

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger piece of dough to a 14-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 10-by-2-inch springform pan. Pour filling into shell. Trim excess dough to 1/2 inch above filling. Roll out remaining piece of dough, 1/8 inch thick. With a pastry wheel, cut into twelve 3/4-inch strips. Weave strips into a lattice over filling; trim lattice flush with edge of dough.

  • Lightly beat egg and brush evenly over top of pie. Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 60 to 90 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool 20 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edge to gently loosen pie. Remove outer ring from springform pan. Let pie cool completely. Serve.

Cook's Notes

John Barricelli, an excellent baker and a longtime friend of Martha's, learned to make this pie from his grandfather. The recipe appears in our book, " Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts."

Reviews (18)

40 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 8
  • 4 star values: 5
  • 3 star values: 15
  • 2 star values: 8
  • 1 star values: 4
Rating: 1 stars
04/24/2019
This was the most annoying pie I’ve ever made! I always make a Torta do Ricotta for Easter so went out on a limb to try something different. Sweet pastry dough is always harder to deal with than a Pate Sucree but this dough was ridiculous. And the cornstarch in the filling came through looking waxy. I was surprised by this recipe and not in a good way.
Rating: 3 stars
03/31/2018
This was very time consuming but the worst part was the dough...so delicate that I could not keep it from breaking apart. I dont mind putting in the time but when it comes to the end of the 2 day process, I expected my dough to work for me. Not in this case. Dough was very hard to work with. I kind of patches it here and there. Hopefully no one will notice how messy the lattice topping is. Uggghhh...such expense and time and to have it end like this..I am not happy.
Rating: Unrated
04/04/2010
I made this yesterday and served it today. It was good. I used a 10" pan which made it a bit thicker but worked fine. I think chilling it thoroughly before serving but then taking it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before slicing into it is perfect, then the filling is firm but the orange zest in the pastry gets more flavorful when it's not ice cold. The texture of the pastry is nicer then too. The dough is super fragile but you could not see the patches after the egg wash was on it.
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Rating: Unrated
03/31/2010
I noticed some of you are having trouble with this recipe...I haven't made it yet but I am attempting it on Saturday. I find with some of Martha's more complicated recipes it really helps to watch the video a couple times before you try it. That's what I did with the Candy Striped Cookie Sticks and they turned out lovely! I'll post another comment once I have made the pie and let everyone know how it turns out.
Rating: Unrated
03/25/2010
Does anyone know if this is to be served hot or cold? Also, how long do you leave it in the pan before trying to take it out? Like many of Martha's recipes, it is not very specific.
Rating: Unrated
03/24/2010
I enjoy Martha's Videos but this one was not practical. First of all how many people have a 12" pan sitting around.Unless you make wedding cakes.Secondly how did he roll out a 16" circle for the pan. I could not do it without having it fall apart. And like the previous lady said the filling was not eough to make a proper pie.Also, how did they get the pie out of the pan to put on the serving plate? Please explain this to me. I believe the pie in the picture was baked in a 9-10 " spring form pan.
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Rating: Unrated
05/14/2009
I made this recipe exaclty as instructed. The filling was not enough to fill a 12 inch round pan sufficiently. The end product was sooo thin; less than 1/2 inch thick. What did I miss?
Rating: Unrated
03/31/2008
I have been searching for years for this recipe...the only thing i wonder about is that i know my Aunt's did not use pastry cream in the filling...does anyone have a recipe that might be made that way? Also in reference to where to get the grain - I found it at my local pork store or italian deli aslo health food stores carry it. I was very surprised when both of my children said they loved this pie, boy did that make me smile!!
Rating: Unrated
03/27/2008
I also missed the part of the show when John talked about the spring wheat. What is it and where can you find it. Is it Organic Red Wheat unmilled.
Rating: Unrated
03/24/2008
I missed the part in the show when he talked about the spring wheat. What is it and where do you get it? I've heard many people talk about this pie.... sounds wonderful..
Rating: Unrated
03/22/2008
My grandmother
Rating: Unrated
03/22/2008
Another version of this Pastiera I use lemon zest which gives it a fresh flavor. Also my grandmother used rice instead of wheat. And no candied citrus fruits. Maybe next year I will try this version.
Rating: Unrated
03/22/2008
this looks a bit like pastiera napoletana, but it lacks candied citrus fruits and most of all orange flower water! this is what gives pastiera its lovely springtime flavour so by any means do no skip it. Add it to the filling by the teaspoon and taste until it's right.
Rating: Unrated
03/21/2008
The sawsage was in the pie on Thursday's show. You can get it there.
Rating: Unrated
03/21/2008
There isn't any sausage in this pie... check out the Easter Pizza Piena, an Easter cheese and sausage pie, that was made on Thursday: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/easter-pizza-piena?lnc=38f9cf380e1dd010VgnVCM1000005b09a00aRCRD
Rating: Unrated
03/21/2008
On the show they added dried sausage. How much?
Rating: Unrated
03/21/2008
On the show they added dried sausage. How much?
Rating: Unrated
03/19/2008
this is my recipe of "Pastiera napoletana" http://www.foodandmood.eu/?p=14 Silvia