The Neapolitan pastiera: a well known delicacy

One of the most famous cakes in Naples

The traditional Italian cuisine presents numerous recipes born in some regions that have seen a large diffusion also in other areas. One of these is the Neapolitan pastiera which is prepared according to tradition in the Easter period. Italian Traditions takes you to the discovery of this dessert and we present the original recipe to prepare it at home. We also explain how to do it and what are the stories and legends concerning its origin.

Its origin and legends of tradition

The most famous legend about the origin of this dessert typical of the Neapolitan culinary tradition is that of the mermaid Partenope, symbol of the city of Naples. The story tells that one day her voice attracted all the inhabitants of the area who were enraptured by this incredible show wanted to thank the mermaid. Seven of the most beautiful girls in the gulf were sent to deliver gifts to her. These were:

  • wheat
  • flour
  • ricotta cheese
  • eggs
  • orange flower water
  • sugar
  • spices.

But that’s not all, when she showed these products to the gods they decided to merge them and mix them together thus giving birth to an extraordinary cake. This was precisely the first pastiera.

Another legend tells that the pastiera was created by some sailors who trapped at sea because of the waves fed on this food. This is testament to why it was given the meaning of a symbol of rebirth.

The true origin of the Neapolitan pastiera is certainly more recent and is linked to religious convents located in the region. In particular in the past very famous was that prepared by the convent of San Gregorio Armeno in the historic center of Naples. The first pastiere were probably made in these structures.

What is and what are today’s traditions

First of all it is a golden-looking cake that is made with shortcrust pastry. This remains crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside it is filled with ricotta, candied fruit, eggs and wheat boiled in milk.

According to tradition, it is prepared by Neapolitan housewives during the Easter period. In particular they are made from Holy Thursday to Holy Saturday.


pastiera napoletana

Image source:Reportage online


  • The original recipe uses these ingredients to prepare the dough:
  • 250 g of durum wheat
  • 1/2 liter of milk
  • 1/2 lemon peel
  • cinnamon
  • spoon of sugar
  • 150 g lard
  • 150 g of sugar
  • an entire egg
  • 2 egg yolks

In addition, the filling is made using:

  • 500 gr of Ricotta di Bufala Campana PDO
  • 1/2 lemon peel
  • orange flower water
  • candied
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 whipped egg whites
  • previously cooked wheat
  • powdered sugar


How to prepare it

The first thing to do is to put 250 gr of hard grain soaking in water for two days. After it is necessary to cook it in water for about 15 minutes. Once drained, it should be placed in half a liter of milk. Add the lemon zest, cinnamon and a tablespoon of sugar. Now cook for about two hours on a low heat.

Meanwhile mix the pastry and prepare the filling. Divide the dough into two parts. Put it inside the pan and pour the filling inside. Now Use the rest of the dough to make strips that must be placed crosswise over the filling. Then put in the oven at a temperature of 180 degrees for an hour. Before serving the dessert we suggest sprinkling it with icing sugar.

Without a doubt this is one of the best and most appreciated desserts of traditional Neapolitan cuisine. The ease in finding the necessary ingredients and its unique taste make it a symbol of this magnificent territory. If you want to discover other recipes of Italian cuisine we suggest you read this article too. Now that you know how to prepare the Neapolitan pastiera you just have to get to work.


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