AT EASTER in Italy we munch our way through delicious sweet things in one of our biggest religious holidays.

Italian Easter eggs are a sight to behold. Large chocolate eggs, wrapped in bright, colourful foil – usually with a toy hidden inside – they are every child’s dream.

Our passion for the religious celebration of Easter is represented in our sweet treats. Colomba cake, for example, is usually served in the shape of a dove. Colomba cake is a traditional Italian Easter cake, filled with candied orange peel and topped with almonds and a sprinkling of sugar.

Another favourite of mine enjoyed at Easter is Pastiera Napoletana. This Italian wheat cake is usually baked no later than Good Friday, to ensure that ingredients have had time to infuse before the cake is devoured on Easter Sunday.

As is always the case, there are different stories about the origin of the Pastiera Napoletana. Some believe that it came from a pagan spring ritual, long before the birth of Christ could become the inspiration behind the cake, while others think it is simply a different take on wedding bread, Pane di Farro, popular in pre-Christ Roman celebrations.

The most popular origin story – and the clue is in the name here – is that the cake originated in a monastery in San Gregorio Armeno, just outside of Naples. As the story goes the nuns there wanted to bake a cake that represented the resurrection of Christ.

Served for breakfast, with afternoon tea, or as a dessert, Pastiera Napoletana is something different from your usual Easter treats, so if you are already sick of the sight of Creme Eggs and hot cross buns, then this is the recipe for you.


For the pastry

300g of plain flour

1 tbs sugar

150g unsalted butter

1 egg

150ml water

Icing sugar

For the filling

350g grano cotto or Arborio rice

250ml milk

30g butter

1 lemon

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

300g sugar

350g ricotta cheese

40g of candied peel, orange

20g of orange blossom water

1/4 tsp vanilla