Casatiello – Savory Easter Bread Recipe

In Italy a holiday or truly any celebration without food is unimaginable. Whether the festa (party) is at home, a restaurant or in a piazza (square), it most always includes a special meal and a customary dish. Pasqua (Easter) is no exception. At the end the 40 day lenten fast, religious processions begin as does the preparation for Easter lunch. Eggs and lamb or goat, symbols of renewal, are found on most tables. Although capretto (goat) is always the main course at our Easter feast, I not so secretly pine for tortano napoletano aka casatiello – a savory filled Neapolitan Easter bread flecked with salami, cheese and black pepper – what’s not to like?tortano4

Making casatiello with mom is an annual ritual. Though I won’t be in Boston for Easter this year, I luckily share this tradition with Concetta. Sitting at the table and talking with Concetta as she whisks around the kitchen brings me home. She is a marvelous and loving cook and mom.

There are many variations of this stuffed bread. Most are crowned with eggs. Some call for lard while others substitute olive oil. Here is a recipe of our combined efforts. I’ve included measurements as a guideline. We measure by eye and fine tune the dough according to the texture. Have fun adjusting the quantities of cheese and salami to your taste and make this recipe your own.

Ingredients

  • 620 g (5 cups) flour
  • 40 g (1.4 oz ) brewer’s yeast (one sachet of instant yeast may weigh anywhere between 5 g to 15 g)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) lard
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) provolone cheese cubed
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) salami cubed
  • 50 g (2 oz) pancetta cubed
  • 50 g (2 oz) parmesan cheese cubed or grated
  • 50 g (2 oz) emmental cubed (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Pile 4.5 cups of flour in a mound on a marble or wooden surface. Make a well in the center of the mound. Dissolve the brewer’s yeast in tepid water as instructed on the yeast packet. Pour the yeast mixture, salt and pepper into the well. Add 1/2 cup lard to the well. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a floured bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. While the dough is rising, cube the salami, cheese and pancetta. Brown the pancetta and put aside.

tortano3Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out in a rectangle. Scatter the cheese, salami and pancetta on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with salt and plenty of pepper. tortano6Start to roll the dough from the longest side, making sure to tuck in the ends. Place in a greased bundt cake pan. Pinch the ends together. tortano5Place the dough in a warm place and it rise for an hour or more. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. tortano1Casatiello is heavenly served warm or at room temperature. It tastes even better on Easter Monday. I hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as we do.

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6 Responses to Casatiello – Savory Easter Bread Recipe

  1. Nadv March 1, 2019 at 10:23 pm #

    That’s a nice recipe but how much water should be used here? It’s not mentioned at all and I can’t imagine this done without any water. I used instant yeast and had to add almost 1.5 cups of water.

    • Gina December 30, 2020 at 7:56 am #

      We only add water to dissolve the yeast.

  2. Caterina Langton April 19, 2019 at 10:15 am #

    Omg this is what my mama used to make you have no idea how happy i was to see this, thank you

    • Gina December 30, 2020 at 7:55 am #

      I’m happy to hear that. enjoy!

  3. Gerry Mazzeo April 21, 2019 at 1:29 am #

    Thank you so very much for this recipe as I too made this with my mother before she passed. I am about to make it now for my family, what beautiful memories, thank you again.

    • Gina December 30, 2020 at 7:54 am #

      You’re very welcome.

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