This Italian Easter Bread is a traditional centerpiece of Italian Easter celebrations.
Combined with Italian cold cuts, cheeses and hard-boiled eggs, among other antipasto delicacies, it makes for a savoury treat.
Here is the recipe for the Savoury Ricottoa Cheesecake you can see in the photo above.
This recipe comes from Central Italy, Umbria and Marche and is not to be confused with the brioche-style braided bread with eggs baked in it.
This bread is actually best made a day or two before serving to allow the flavours to meld. It will keep about 5 days at room temperature if well wrapped and sealed - if it lasts that long!
This makes a large loaf so if you have some left over you are in luck.
It makes a delicious panini bread - fill it with some cold cuts and cheese and toast til the cheese melts and the bread is toasty.
Put leftover bread in your food processor and process to the consistency of bread crumbs. This makes a delicious breading for chicken cutlets or fish fillets. Freeze any extra crumbs for future use.
In fact - these 2 ideas are leftovers are so good ( I can vouch first hand for both!) that you may want to make sure you have leftovers!
Wine Pairing for Italian Easter Bread
In keeping with the dish, look for Montefalco Rosso DOC, Sangiovese dominant blend, highly tannic with plummy notes from Cab Sauv or Merlot often in the blend. This is a big wine so look for wines 3-10 years post vintage.
On the white spectrum Orvieto is in Umbria. Orvieto blends are typically their signature white grape Grechetta and Trebbiano. These blends tend to be fruity and dry.
Failing being able to source Umbrian wines, look for neighbouring Chiantis for red or a crisp, white Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a Soave.
Italian Easter Bread (Crescia di Pasqua)
- Round baking dish at least 8" deep and about 7" round
- Or use parchment paper to create a sleeve to increase the depth of the baking dish to 8"
- 100 ml lukewarm water ½ cup + 1 Tbsp
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 25 grams dry active yeast 2 ¼ tsp
- 500 grams all purpose flour about 3 ⅓ cups
- 5 medium eggs
- 100 grams grated Parmesan 4 oz
- 100 grams grated Pecorino Romano 4 oz
- 75 grams olive oil ⅓ cup
- 50 grams shortening or butter ¼ cup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- Spray your baking dish with cooking spray. Cut off a length of parchment paper long enough to fit as a ring inside your baking pan with a bit of overlap. Fold it in half length-wise to give it added strength. Spray the inside of the parchment paper as well.
- Mix the water, honey and yeast in a bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are creamy. Add the olive oil, cheeses, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Add the water/yeast mixture to the egg mixture.
- Using your stand mixer, add the flour in a little at a time until it is well incorporated. Add the shortening or butter and mix about 5 minutes more on medium speed. The dough will be sticky.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan. Place baking dish in the TURNED OFF oven. You may need to remove a rack to ensure the baking dish/collar have room in the oven.
- Allow the dough 3 hours to rise. Do NOT open the oven. (During this time the dough should have doubled or more in size.) After 3 hours turn the oven to 350° and bake for 45 minutes. Reduce the oven to 300° and bake 15 minutes more. Turn oven off, crack the door and allow the bread to cool slightly in the oven.
- Allow bread to finish cooling on a wire rack. When completely cool wrap well in plastic wrap and a sealed bag or container.
- Bread will keep about 5 days at room temperature if well sealed. It is best if made a day or two before serving.
- Serve with Italian cold cuts, cheeses and red wine!