Pastiera is a type of Italian cake made with ricotta cheese. It originates from the area of Naples. It is a typical cake during Easter time.
It was used during the pagan celebrations of the return of the Spring time. During these celebrations Ceres’priestess 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 honeyand milk the people offered the catechumen during Easter Eve at the end of the ceremony of baptism.
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.
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