Are you a Cake Boss fan? Because I am. Obviously I agree with everyone that Buddy is incredibly talented and his baking creations look divine and all that, but I also fully enjoy watching him lose his temper and start flippin’ out on everyone. It’s just pure entertainment. Plus he gets those bulgy, crazy eyes. I mention this because I made one of his recipes this weekend, and ALSO came very close to having a genuine Cake Boss-level freak-out. Allow me to elaborate.
My hubby and I were watching Cake Boss recently—the Thanksgiving edition, to be exact—and Buddy baked up an incredible looking Italian Wheat Pie. Now, I had never, ever heard of a wheat pie, and upon first hearing the name, you may be tempted to think it’s made of some healthy whole-wheat crust or some other nonsense, but I assure you that it is not. Not that I’m opposed to healthy food. I’m not. But a healthy pie that tastes good? Ain’t never heard of such a thing. Where was I? Oh yes. Wheat pie. I learned from Buddy that a wheat pie is a traditional Italian pie, made with a sweet sugarcookie-like crust with a ricotta cheesecake-y filling with chewy wheat berries, and fresh lemon and orange zest incorporated throughout. Now that sounds like a pie, wouldn’t you say?!
So back to my Cake Boss freak-out. Let me just tell you now that if—and hopefully when—you make this pie, DO place a baking pan underneath it!! I did not do this, since it was my first time baking the thing, and bits of the sugarcookie crust spilled down onto the floor of the oven and caused black smoke to fill my stamp-sized apartment, which, you should know, STILL smells like smoke three days later. Poor ventilation, you see. So just use the baking pan please and save yourselves.
First things first. Rinse and strain wheat berries.
Place wheat in a pot, toss in some salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 2 hours until soft and chewy.
Strain ‘em, rinse ‘em, and mix some butter in with ‘em, then refrigerate.
Now, let’s make the Pasta Frolla, the cookie-like crust for the pie! In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Then add vanilla, honey, baking soda, and baking powder until mixed completely. Now zest in some lemon to brighten up the flavors. Don’t you love lemon zest?
Add cold water and flour, and mix on slow speed until all the ingredients are nicely mixed and well-acquainted.
Flour a surface, place the Pasta Frolla on top, and shape it into a flat square.
Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate that baby!
Now for the filling! In a large-ish bowl, add ricotta, sugar, more lemon zest (yay), orange zest, 2 cups of cooked wheat berries, and this stuff right here:
Orange blossom water. You can find it here, or at a local health foods store. It’s a lovely fruity distillation that will make your pie fresh and citrusy.
Give this a big stir, then add three eggs, one at a time, while stirring in-between.
When you’re ready to assemble your pie, roll out about 2/3 of your chilled Pasta Frolla on a floured surface to make the bottom crust.
Pour in the filling.
Now roll out the leftover crust about ¼ inch think to make the top lattice strips.
Cut lattice strips about ¾ inch wide, and starting in the middle, lay 5 strips across the top of the pie filling, then 5 more strips at an angle, over the top of that.
Now, read closely, so that you don’t have a freak-out like I did. PLACE A BAKING SHEET BELOW THE PIE, and then bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. You may not need the baking sheet in the end, but let us take no risks here, else you hate me forever for making your typically very lovely home smell of burnt baked goods for the next month.
Pie is finished once set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature, then serve.
Note: I think I might try this without the wheat next time. If you’re a strict traditionalist, then use the wheat, it is still delicious! But I think I will either leave it out, or replace it with chocolate chips next time. Like an orange-chocolate pie. MMM…