This savory Italian Easter bread is a legendary tradition of Le Marche, a region in the center-north of Italy, with beautiful medieval towns and a family-friendly Riviera.
The shape of the Crescia Easter bread reminds a bit of the Christmas panettone, but its the cheese used in the dough that gives it its unique and delicious taste. The traditional Crescia recipe wants only Pecorino as the cheese to use; made from sheep milk, its still a remarkable product of the region, but many recipes today call for a blend of different cheese, such as Parmigiano and Gruyere (Parmesan and Swiss).
In the old days people used to set aside dozens of eggs before Easter in order to prepare many Crescia breads and give them as gifts to their friends and families. The tradition is still alive in many places and almost every family has a secret recipe for this savory Easter bread, which is normally served for brunch with boiled eggs and cured meats.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 6):
1 pound/500 g of all purpose flour
3.5 oz/100 g of grated Parmesan cheese
3.5 oz/100 g of grated Pecorino or Romano cheese
2/3 cup/150 grams of olive oil
100 g of fresh yeast or 40 g (Ό cup + ½ teaspoon) of active dry
1/3 cup of warm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1. In a bowl mix well flour, cheese, salt and pepper; make a well in the middle and crack eggs in it; add oil, and the yeast previously dissolved in the milk together with the sugar.
2. Mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until you have well combined the dough.
3. Sprinkle some flour on pastry board and knead the dough for about ten minutes, until smooth and firm, adding more flour if needed.
4. At this point, shape the dough in a ball and put it in a tall round mold which you previously buttered and floured. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
5. Bake for about 1 hour in a 350 F oven, testing with a toothpick to see if its ready. If it comes out clean, its good to go.
6. Let cool down completely before taking out of the mold. Transfer to a serving dish and serve cold, along with boiled eggs and slices of prosciutto or other cured meat.
Buon appetito e Buona Pasqua!
Cinzia Aversa 2013