One of the things I love about Italy is the passionate way holidays are celebrated and the imaginative foods that result. Easter is no exception!
Easter bread, a tradition throughout Naples and Southern Italy, has many names: Caniscione, Casatiello, Pizza Giana or Pizza Chiena. Each family has its own cherished recipe for this savory, meat and cheese filled bread. The loaf is thick, hearty and easy to transport in a picnic basket to celebrate Pasquetta, a big celebration on the day after Easter.
First, I want to share with you, Casatiello, an Easter bread from Naples. The ring shape and crisscross represent the Crown of Thorns and Passion of Christ. I love how the eggs are nested in the dough to signify rebirth or new beginnings.
Casatiello is made with a slowly rising yeasted dough and filled with savory delights. The eggs can be colored or al natural.
Here is the inside and out:
Here I am in my little kitchen, showing you step-by-step.
Celebrate Easter and the joy of spring.
- 1 1/2 cups tepid water
- 10 grams dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 pinches salt
- 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese, cubed
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 raw eggs
- freshly ground black pepper
- coloring for eggs (optional)
- To make the dough:
- In a medium bowl, add water and yeast and stir to dissolve. Add butter and olive oil and stir well.
- Add 2 cups of flour, a bit at a time, whisking as you go. The dough will have the consistency of pancake batter. Add 2 pinches of salt and stir.
- Add the remaining flour (2 cups) all at once, and use your hands to mix until the flour is incorporated. The dough will be smooth and slightly sticky.
- Turn the mixture onto a floured board and begin to knead to incorporate all of the flour and create a soft dough. Very lightly flour the board as needed if the dough gets sticky. Keep kneading for 5 – 6 minutes until a soft, smooth, maleable dough is formed.
- Cut off a small piece of dough, about 3 tablespoons, and set aside. This will be used later to form the crisscross on the eggs.
- Using your fingertips, press and stretch the dough into a 12″ by 6″ rectangle. Add the filling:
- In a medium bowl, combine Pecorino, olives and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to mix. Pour the filling over the top of the dough broadcasting until it covers the dough.
- Place the dough in a greased, 12-inch ring pan forming a doughnut shape.
- Gently press the 4 raw eggs into the ring of dough. The top half of the egg will stick out of the dough. Using the small piece of dough we set aside, pinch off a fourth and roll into a snake shape. Form a crisscross shape over one egg. Repeat for each egg. So adorable!
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 1/2 hours until it just about doubles in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place on center rack and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then turn onto a board. Cut into slices end enjoy! It is fun to remove the hard boiled eggs, peel them and eat them with the bread. It makes a complete meal! buona Pasqua!
Roll up the dough and filling much like a jelly roll and add several grinds of black pepper.