Casatiello is a decorative savoury Easter bread made with bread dough, lard and filled with cheese (Case is Neapolitan dialect for cheese) and various meats such as salami, pancetta or mortadella and baked in large ring mould.
Casatiello use of symbolic imagery surrounding Christ’s death and rebirth are evident in how the bread is created. For example, before baking, casatiello is adorned with hard boiled eggs which have cross shape strips of dough to symbolise the cross. The shape of the casatiello, the crown of thorns, and the eggs signify resurrection.
The recipe takes quite some time to make, so be prepared to set aside around 6 hours to make this savoury treat best served warm or at room temperature, and can be eaten for up to 3 days if stored in a sealed food container.
Ingredients for a 1kg Casatiello
650g Plain Flour
40g Fresh Yeast
375mL Warm Water
1 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tablespoons Pecorino Cheese
125g of Salami, Cooked Pancetta, cut into small pieces
6 Whole Eggs
In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in 125mL of warm water. Sift the plain flour with the salt on a work surface, making a well in the centre, and fill with the dissolved yeast and 50g of lard. Knead for about 10 minutes, adding the rest of the water until you get a smooth soft dough. Place in an oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth and set aside for 90 minutes in a warm place to allow the dough to rise.
Transfer the dough back to the work surface and roll it out gently into a big rectangle, brush the top with approximately 60g of lard, sprinkle some parmesan and black pepper. Fold it in half to make a smaller rectangle and repeat the process using the pecorino cheese this time. Fold for a final time and brush the remaining lard and spread the salami & pancetta into the dough. Cut a handful of dough and set aside.
Roll the dough out to form a cylindrical shape and place in an oiled cake ring. Cover with a cloth and let it rise in a warm place for about 3 hours so that the casatiello would have doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Wash and carefully pat dry the whole raw eggs and place them evenly out in the ring dough. Take the dough you set aside earlier, and make 12 small ropes and lay them cross shaped over the eggs in order to trap the eggs inside the bread.
Bake in the oven for about an hour or until the casatiello is golden in colour. Once cooked allow to cool and serve with a glass of Lacryma Christi Bianco wine.