Monday, March 26, 2018

Mom's Easter Grain Pie

The celebration of Easter Sunday is approaching. It's a time for rejoicing and celebrating the Resurrection of Christ.

In the Mancuso/Esposito household, Holy Saturday was celebrated in a special way.  My son, Marty, refers to it as Easter Pie Saturday.

My Mom would start preparing the baked goods on Holy Thursday and bake right into Saturday morning.... Braided sweet Easter Bread with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, Black Pepper Taralli, Orange Glazed Cookies, Pizzagaina (Rustica),  Easter Pasta Pie and of course homemade Grain Pie.

Grain Pie was the most complicated recipe of all. There were actual "steps" that needed to be taken to complete this masterpiece.  Over the years, I have tried my best to keep this tradition alive.  Lucky for me, my future daughter-in-law, Brittany, has mastered this art and who I gladly hand the torch over to.

Grain Pie

Step 1
  • 1/2 lb uncooked or 1 lb whole wheat cooked grain 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest 
  • 1/4 cup chopped citron 
  • 1 tbs sugar 
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk 
Soak uncooked grain overnight in water in the refrigerator.
Drain water and cook similar to rice doubling the amount of water to the amount of grain.
Add salt, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer over low flame for 1 hour stirring occasionally to prevent sticking
After one hour, add evaporate milk, sugar, citron and orange zest. Bring to a simmer and cook for additional 1/2 hour.

Step 2
  • 1 1/2 lb of ricotta 
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 6 egg yolks 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp almond extract 
  • 1/4 cup chopped citron 
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding 
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh orange 
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh grapefruit 
Beat with mixer until well blended

Step 3
  • 6 egg whites 
  • 1 tbs sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice 
Beat until stiff

Step 4

In a large bowl, mix Step 1 and Step 2 together then fold in Step 3

Step 5 - Dough
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 heaping tsp baking powder 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • 1 stick softened margarine 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract 
Mix dry ingredients in mixer, add milk, margarine, extract and eggs one a time.
Knead dough and form 4 dough balls. Add more flour as needed.
Make ahead and refrigerate for easier rolling.

Roll dough and press into two 10" deep dish greased pie pans. Fill pie pans with Ricotta mixture.
Roll remaining dough and cut into lattice pieces making a criss-cross design over filling and around each pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown.

Britt, my mom would have been so proud. You are only lucky man, Mike.

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