Here we have Mrs Rita, a very good cook and friend of mine from Marche, central Italy. Because she is so good and she knows everything about central Italy cooking traditions, we thought it was a good idea to have her presenting the typical cheese bread of Italian Easter breakfast.
The “Easter Cheese Bread/Pizza” is – indeed – a typical Easter bread from Umbria and Marche, two regions of central Italy, where on Sunday Easter Italians usually have savoury breakfast (only once a year!), eating this bread together with salame, blessed hard boiled eggs, chocolate… and wine!
Traditionally, the end of Lent – which are the 40 days before Easter, during which the believers prepared themselves through prayer, penance and abstinence from all animal food and it is quite a common practice – used to be celebrated in Italy with many special Easter dishes all made from excessive amounts of eggs. Today, the tradition is less dramatic but the eggy cakes still play a big part and ‘cheesy cake’ are still traditionally eaten for breakfast on Easter Day. See also La Pastiera recipe http://casamia-blog.com/2013/04/03/traditionally-italian-la-pastiera/
Mrs Rita’s recipe consists in fact of flour, eggs and cheese. She recalls her grandmother preparing a lot of “Crescia” (local name for this Cheese Easter bread in the Marche region) and bringing it, with other housewives, to the local bakery to bake them into a professional oven, because – according to her grandma – the taste would have been much much better!! She used to prepare quite a lot of “Crescia” to give it away to nephews and relatives as Easter present. Typical Italian attitude… lot of food for everyone! 🙂
Easter Cheese Bread
For bread dough:
200 gr strong flour
90 ml water
2 tsp. caster sugar
20 gr yeast
150 gr strong flour
100 gr extra virgin olive oil
100 gr pecorino cheese, in cubes
100 gr. parmesan cheese, grated
2 egg yolk
pinch of salt
Prepare the bread dough first.
Sieve the dry ingredients together, the flour and the sugar.
Have the water ready at room temperature. Melt the yeast in a bit of water.
In a round bowl, mix everything (the dry ingredients, the water and the melted yeast) together and then knead the mixture down for a few minutes, stretching and turning the dough to help the gluten to develop. You want a quite tough dough. if it is too soft, add some flour.
Let it proofing in a dry and warm place for at least one hour.
Then prepare your cheese dough.
In a bowl, break the eggs and the egg yolks, then add the parmesan cheese and the pecorino cheese and mix everything until incorporated.
Little by little add the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly.
Put this aside and wait for your bread dough to rise.
When the bread dough has doubled up, in a new bowl work together the eggs and cheese mixture with the risen dough and the fresh flour.
Now you need either a soufflé tin, or any other tin – the deeper, the better.
(If all the mixture doesn’t fit in your tin, fill it once – leave the rest of your mixture in a dry place, then fill it again with your leftover once the first pizza is ready).
Slightly butter your tin and pour the mixture into it.
Put this aside again in a dry and warm place to proof for another couple of hours.
Turn your oven on at 220°.
When you are ready to bake, put an empty baking tray onto the lower level of your oven.
Right before you put the ‘soufflé tin’ in, add some water into the empty baking tray and quickly close the oven. This will help to have more humidity while baking in order to have a more uniform rising.
Lower the oven to 180° and bake until the pizza is nice and golden.
Once ready, turn off the oven, open the door and leave it to cool down inside for a while before serving.
Enjoy it with either salame, or Italian or Spanish ham or together with any type of salad.