Get ready to discover the mouth-watering world of Italian bread with a focus on the beloved Easter dish, Casatiello. We’ll explore the history, symbolism, and ingredients that make it so unique, and share a recipe for you to try at home. Let’s get baking!

Servings

 

8

Ready In:

 

4h 40 min

Calories:

 

907

Good For:

 

Lunch

About this Recipe

By: Silvana Lanzetta

Can you believe that Easter is right around the corner? I don’t know about you, but I’m already starting to get excited for all the yummy food that comes along with it.
I can picture all the Neapolitan women bustling around in their kitchens. On Holy Thursday, they are whipping up all sorts of tasty treats like tòrtani, pizza chiena, and pastiera. Like my mum used to do.
But the thing that really gets me going is casatiello.
This delicious Easter bread is amazing. I mean, just picture it – rich, fluffy bread filled to the brim with gooey cheese and savoury salami. It’s like a party in your mouth! It’s been my favourite Easter treat since I was a kid, and I still get excited about it every year.
So, are you ready to indulge in this scrumptious Easter bread?
Casatiello
Casatiello in a Neapolitan bakery

Wines

This delicious bread is not only loved for its unique flavour, but also for its symbolic value. It’s actually the dish that celebrates the resurrection of Christ! The strips of bread that encase the eggs semi-submerged in the dough represent the cross on which Jesus died and his crown of thorns, while the annular aspect is a reference to the cyclical nature inherent in the Easter resurrection. Pretty cool, right?
But enough about the symbolism, let’s talk about the deliciousness of the casatiello itself. It’s made from bread dough that’s filled with eggs, salami, cheese, and lard. And let me tell you, that lard is what really makes the flavour of this dish stand out. Back in the day, the housewives of Naples would use all the edible leftovers from their winter supplies and pig preparations to make the casatiello. It was a real ritual – a way to clean out the pantry and use up all those small quantities of food that would have otherwise gone to waste.
The origins of the casatiello date all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman Naples, where bread seasoned with various ingredients was already being enjoyed. Over time, it became a symbol of Catholic Easter, symbolising Christ’s crown of thorns. And while it’s still consumed on Easter Sunday, it’s also the perfect packed lunch for out-of-town trips and typical picnics on Easter Monday.
So, if you’re looking to celebrate Easter in true Neapolitan style, you definitely can’t go wrong with some delicious casatiello.
Casatiello 4
Casatiello 5

Nutrition

 

Casatiello is delicious, but it contains high amounts of saturated fat and sodium, so it’s better  consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

  • Proteins 18% 18%
  • Carbs 25% 25%
  • Fats 57% 57%
Casatiello 1

The Ingredients

Flour
 
If you’re looking to bake up some seriously delicious bread, then you’re going to want to get your hands on some Manitoba flour. This stuff is the real deal. Its high gluten content is the secret to making your Casatiello rise high. And gives it that fluffy, soft crumb that we all crave.
 
But, if you’re one of the folks out there with a gluten intolerance (not celiac, mind you), don’t worry – there are still plenty of options for you. White spelt flour is a great alternative . Its low gluten content makes it ideal for you!
 
Now, let’s talk about yeast. Fresh baker yeast is always the best option, but let’s be real – sometimes it’s just not easy to find at your local supermarket. If you don’t feel like trekking out to a Polish, Swedish, or Italian deli to get your hands on some fresh yeast, dry yeast is a great alternative. Make sure you use half the amount called for in the recipe, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to activate it.
Pepper
This bread is not for the faint of heart! When it comes to spice, you’re going to want to add a healthy dose of pepper to really make it pop.
 
Now, my grandma was a real pepper enthusiast – she used to add a whopping 50 grams (that’s nearly 2 ounces!) of pepper for 2 kg of flour. Let me tell you, that was some spicy bread! My mum dialled it back a bit and used about half of that, but I’ve even reduced it further. These days, I like to add about 12-15 grams (or about 2 teaspoons) of pepper for 2 kg of flour. It still packs a bold flavour punch, but at least my mouth isn’t on fire!
 
Of course, the amount of pepper you add is up to you – if you’re a real spice lover, go ahead and channel your inner grandma Rosa. But if you’re like me and prefer a little less heat, feel free to reduce the amount to your liking. Either way, your casatiello is sure to be delicious!
Cured Meats
Traditionally, this delicious bread only calls for pork crackling to be added to the dough. However, these days, cubed Napoli salami is usually added to the mix, and sometimes even cubed mortadella. The choice of cured meat is up to you, but personally, I think adding salami is a must. Its strong, peppery flavour adds to the deliciousness of the casatiello.
 
But, if you’re looking to take things to the next level, let me tell you about my personal favourite mix of cured meats. I like to add equal parts cubed salami, pancetta, and mortadella. I find that this mix gives the best flavour without having to resort to pork cracklings.
Lard
The key ingredient that makes Casatiello so addictive is lard. But here’s the thing: lard is pretty high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Lot of bakeries and families in Naples have started swapping it out for olive oil instead.
 
Will using olive oil really make that big of a difference? Well, the answer is yes and no. The flavour will be a bit different, but not by much. And the texture might change a little bit. But it’s definitely worth it if you want to avoid all the nasty stuff that lard can bring to the table.
 
So, if you’re ready to give this delicious bread a try, but want to skip the lard, you can use 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil instead.
Cheese

One of the things that makes Casatiello so incredibly scrumptious is the cheese.  We’re talking grated parmesan and pecorino in the dough, and cubed extra-mature cheese in the filling. I mean, does it get any better than that? But, here’s a word of caution – make sure you don’t over-salt your dough because the cheeses are already pretty salty on their own.

Eggs

 

Let’s talk about one of the most iconic features of casatiello – the eggs! They not only symbolise the rebirth of nature and springtime, but they’re also a powerful representation of the resurrection of Christ. They’re placed on top of the casatiello, fixed in place by two dough strips arranged to form a cross (the same cross where Christ died). It’s this unique Christian symbolism that sets casatiello apart from other Italian Easter foods.
 
Now, some people (myself included) like to take things to the next level and add boiled eggs to the filling. I find that it adds a touch of sweetness to the bold and spicy filling, making it even more enjoyable to eat. But here’s the thing – I don’t add the eggs on top like some people do. Why? Well, I just can’t stand the thought of food going to waste. So instead, I place my eggs inside the bread. This version of casatiello is called tortano and doesn’t have the same religious symbolism, but it still has that same delicious taste.
 
Of course, the placement of the eggs is up to you. If you want to put them on top, inside, or both – go for it! No matter how you do it, your casatiello is sure to be absolutely amazing.

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Casatiello

Casatiello


  • Author: Silvana
  • Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 portions 1x

Description

Indulge in the savoury flavours of this traditional Neapolitan Easter bread. Packed with mouth-watering cheese, salami, and eggs, it’s the perfect addition to any holiday table.

 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 500 grams manitoba flour
  • 15 grams fresh yeast (or 7 grams dried yeast)
  • 100 grams lard
  • 80 grams grated pecorino
  • 80 grams grated parmesan
  • 10 grams black pepper, coarsely ground
  • Salt
  • 70 grams neapolitan salami
  • 70 grams pancetta
  • 70 grams extra mature cheese
  • 50 grams mortadella
  • 250/ 300 grams lukewarm water
  • 3 eggs

Instructions

  1. To make the perfect Casatiello, start by arranging the flour in a large bowl. Create a hole in the centre of the flour, then add in the yeast, salt, pepper, grated cheese, and half of the lard. 
  2. Slowly add in the warm water and mix until everything is combined. Gradually add in the rest of the lard while kneading until the dough is uniform, elastic, and doesn’t stick to the work surface.
  3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with cling film and a kitchen towel, and let it rise for 2 hours. 
  4. Once it has risen, take the dough and roll it out onto a floured surface, forming a rectangle about 5mm thick.
  5. Cover the rectangle with cubes of salami, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs (if using).
  6.  Starting from one of the short sides of the rectangle, roll the dough on itself, making sure the filling stays inside. 
  7. Form a donut shape and place it in a circular oven dish, preferably with a cylindrical separator in the centre (if you don’t have one, a heatproof glass jar will work).
  8. If you want to decorate your Casatiello with eggs, evenly arrange 3 or 4 hard-boiled eggs, still in their shells, on the surface, and close them with two strips of dough in the shape of a cross. 
  9. Cover with a clean tea towel and let it rise for another hour.
  10. Preheat your oven to 150॰C/ 300॰F/ gas mark 2, then place the Casatiello on the middle shelf and let it cook for 1 hour. 
  11. Once it’s done, remove from the oven and let it cool completely before serving.

Notes

For optimal flavour, it’s recommended to allow your Casatiello to rest for at least one day after baking. This will give the ingredients enough time to meld together and create a truly delicious bread.

Casatiello can be stored at room temperature for 4-5 days, simply by covering it with a clean tea towel.

For best results in this recipe, we recommend using Napoli salami. If this is not available, a French saucisson can also work well. It’s important to purchase the salami in one piece and cube it into small pieces for the recipe.

When making Casatiello, a variety of cured meats can be used to add flavour to the bread. Recommended options include salami, smoked lardons, mortadella, and cooked ham. For those looking to stay true to tradition, pork scratchings can also be added to the mix.

Provolone semi piccante, a semi-spicy aged cheese from Italy, is a common ingredient in Casatiello. However, this cheese can be difficult to find outside of Italy. A good substitute for Provolone is extra mature cheese. If you prefer a milder flavour, you can also use Gruyere as a replacement

For a healthier take on Casatiello, you can replace the lard with 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil. This simple swap reduces the saturated fat content and provides a different flavour profile.

For a vegetarian twist on Casatiello, you can replace the cured meat with chopped artichoke. This substitution not only provides a delicious and unique flavor, but also makes the dish suitable for vegetarians.

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Rest Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Baking
  • Method: slow food
  • Cuisine: Italian
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