Pastiera

egg and rice gluten free cake with lemon

There are many versions of Pastiera, the Italian Easter pie. Some are sweet and some are savory, but they always include ricotta, a grain such as pasta or rice, and the most iconic sign of spring: eggs. A Neapolitan Pastiera (arguably the original), is made with a beautiful criss-crossed lattice crust. A Bolognese version can include golden raisins, pistachio, and walnuts. The version that Tara’s Italian grandmother makes has always been naturally gluten-free. It is made simply and crust-less with Arborio rice and citrus zest, and this is our take on her recipe. Nana isn’t sure if hers is a more Northern Italian version from Piedmont. All she knows is that this is how her mother made it and we love that. (Prop styling by Lisa Lee)

Serves 10

 
  • 2pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
  • soft butter, for pan
  • gluten-free flour, for dusting
  • 3cups heavy cream
  • 12cup short grain (Arborio or Carnaroli) rice (3.5 ounces)
  • 12-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 12teaspoon fine salt
  • 1vanilla bean
  • 1tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 23cup sugar light brown (5 ounces)
  • 3large eggs
  • 2large egg yolks
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
    1
  • Place a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl, letting extra cheesecloth extend well over the sides. Place the ricotta in the cheesecloth, wrap the cheesecloth to enclose, return to strainer. Use a large full can or jar to weigh down the ricotta. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • 2
  • Butter and lightly dust an 8-inch springform pan with gluten-free flour. In a medium pot over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Stir in rice, cinnamon, and salt. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the seed into the mixture, and add the pod. Return mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of pot to prevent scorching, until the liquid is absorbed, the mixture is thick, and the rice is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  • 3
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. Stir in sugar and lemon zest. Scrape into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except confectioner’s sugar. Stir until very well combined, pour into the springform pan.
  • 4
  • Bake for about 90 minutes, rotating pan every 20 minutes or so, until browned on top but not completely set in the center. Let pastiera cool completely on a baking rack before unmolding. It will keep in the fridge for up to three days. Some say it’s even better after a day or two. Serve at room temperature and dust with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.