Neapolitan Casatiello (Italian Easter bread) Recipe
With its rich filling in cheese and sausages (salami), it was a special dish, which was prepared only on the occasion of parties and anniversaries, required a long leavening and was baked in a wood oven.
Over time it has become one of the symbolic dishes of the Easter week.
A Little History
The name of this food is derives from the cheese-based filling, “caso” in Neapolitan, the appearance recalls the symbolism of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.
The circular shape represents the crown of thorns and the eggs caged by a cross are the symbol of rebirth. There is no single recipe of Casatiello, but many variations depending on the area of Italy, and from family to family, so much so that on Easter Monday you can also taste ten different Casatielli in the same area.
In addition to the rustic preparation, there is also the sweet version of Casatiello, with sugar glaze and diavulilli ( colored sprinkles) similar to the Irpinia Easter pine cone.
According to the Italian Recipe Books, this bread is native to central Italy, including the regions of Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche, Molisse, and Umbria.
It’s baked in a tall cylindrical pan and is said to have originated with medieval nuns during Holy Week, when they used 40 eggs to represent the 40 days of Lent.
Before starting to knead your Casatiello, arrange all the necessary ingredients on the work table.
Place the flour on a pastry board and work it slowly with the warm water, in which you have added the yeast, a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Add half of the lard and work vigorously, if the dough is too hard, add more water.
When the dough is well strung, that is homogeneous and elastic, let it rise in a bowl, covered with a clean kitchen towel, for at least 4 hours.
Roll out the leavened dough on a wooden surface with a rolling pin.
Remember to put aside a small ball of dough which will be used at the end, to make the crosses on the eggs.
Dice the salami and cheese and carefully wash the eggs that will be used to decorate the Casatiello bread.
Stuff the Casatiello with diced salami or ham and cheeses and roll up the dough.
Seal the sides of the Casatiello so that the filling does not come out during baking.
Arrange everything in a donut pan with a diameter of 24-26 cm, previously greased with lard.
Arrange the raw whole eggs on the top of the bread and with the remaining of the dough, cage each egg.
Let it rise for at least another 2 hours.
Grease the top of the dough with the remaining lard and bake in preheated oven at 180°C (356 °F) for about 50 minutes.
Let your Casatiello cool and taste it the next day, it will be even better.
Enjoy, Good Appetite!