This Savory Italian Casatiello Napoletano Bread is a traditional Easter Bread from Naples. Stuffed with salame, pancetta and a selection of cheeses, it makes the perfect Brunch, Appetizer or main dish idea.
My daughter had a couple of friends from Naples and we were treated to some delicious dishes, from Struffoli to Pizza Napoletano to my favourite Italian Pastries Sfogliatelle. Food from Naples is rich and over the top (very much like Neapolitans themselves) but so darn delicious.
There is a famous saying “Vedi Napoli e poi muori/See Naples and then die” meaning it is so beautiful it is a must see but don’t forget to try all the delicious dishes while you are there!
How to make it
In the stand up mixer add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then stir and add the flour and start to knead, add the lard a little at a time and continue to knead, add the salt and pepper with the last addition of lard.
Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, it should be smooth and not sticky.
Form into a ball, place in bowl, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for 2-3 hours or until it triples in volume.
Move the dough to a flat surface and pat into small rectangle, fold the dough, remove a small amount to be used as the strips to cover the eggs. Cover the dough and let rest 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting cut up the pancetta, salami and cheese into cubes
Roll the dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle with 1/2 the grated pecorino or parmesan, then top with the cubed salami, pancetta and cheese, sprinkle again with the remaining pecorino.
Roll the dough lengthwise, but not too tightly, form into a circle and place in the prepared tube or bundt pan.
Place 3-4 eggs on the dough spread apart and keep them in place with strips of rolled out dough.
Cover the pan and let it rise in a warm draft free area for approximately 2 hours.
Brush the bread with an egg wash and bake. If the bread is browning too much cover with foil and continue baking. Cool on a wire rack. Eat warm or room temperature.
What is a Casatiello?
The strips of bread that enclose the eggs in the dough represent the cross on which Jesus died. This rustic bread is prepared for Holy Saturday and served (if it lasts that long) until Easter Monday. A casatiello is a lard-based dough enriched with provolone, pecorino, pancetta and salami, therefore it is not exactly light.
Just be sure to choose ingredients that are drier rather than wet, such as prosciutto, cooked ham and not fresh mozzarella which is too liquidy.
Traditionally Neapolitans eat it with raw fresh fava beans and salted ricotta. They also eat it warm or even cold for breakfast or served on the side as an appetizer.
Substitute for Lard
If possible I wouldn’t substitute the lard, but if you must, then use unsalted butter, shortening or coconut, vegetable or olive oils. Lard gives the dough a more tender and tasty crust.
What is Lard
It is a semi-soft white fat derived from the fatty parts of the pig, it has no trans fat and it has a high value of fatty acid in it. Lard has the most monounsaturated fats at 48% compared to olive oil which has 77%. These fats help to lower blood cholesterol levels and maintain healthy cells.
What to use to cover the dough?
I actually bought re-usable plastic bowl covers from the dollar store that I wash and reuse rather than using plastic wrap every time. You could also use a clean cotton tea towel or even a cotton cover that is made for bread baking.
What is the best temperature for liquid in yeast bread?
I always make sure my water or milk is lukewarm between 98-105F (36-40C). The liquid shouldn’t be hot or it will kill the yeast. It can even be room temperature, although it may take a little longer for your dough to rise, but longer rising time results in a more flavourful dough.
Is the yeast active?
The yeast you are using could be old or dead, to tell if the yeast is still active, in a small bowl add a 1/2 cup of water, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top, stir it up, then let it stand for about 10 minutes.
How to store it
It can be kept at room temperature as long as the room is cool and dry, be sure to keep it well wrapped. It will last up to 3-4 days. If not wrap well and refrigerate for up to 5-6 days. It can also be frozen, be sure to cool it completely, wrap well and place in a freezer safe bag or container, it can be frozen with the eggs. It will last up to 3-4 weeks in the freezer.
More Delicious Easter Recipes
So if you are looking for something Traditionally Italian this Easter Season. I hope you try this Casatiello Napoletano and let me know how it goes. Buon Appetito!
Italian Casatiello Napoletano – Savory Stuffed Easter Bread
FOR THE BREAD
- 1 cup + 1-3 tablespoons water lukewarm (250-275 grams)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 ½ cups + 5 ½ tablespoons flour (all purpose or bread) (500 grams)
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon lard (115 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 dashes black pepper
- 1 ¼ cups cheese (cubed fontal, provolone, gruyere or even a mixture) (170 grams)
- 1 cup salame (milano cubed) (120 grams)
- ⅓ – ½ cup pancetta (cubed) (50 grams)
- 3 tablespoons pecorino freshly grated* (40 grams)
- 3 tablespoons parmesan freshly grated* (40 grams)
- 3-4 large eggs
* You can use all pecorino or all parmesan whichever you prefer, if you use both then mix together.
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- In the stand up mixer add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then stir, add the flour and start to knead, add the lard a little at a time and continue to knead add the salt and pepper with the last addition of lard.
- Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, it should be smooth and not sticky. Form the dough into a ball, place in a clean bowl, cover it and let it rise in a warm draft free area for 2-3 hours or until it triples in volume.
- Move the dough to a flat surface and pat into small rectangle, fold the top of dough to the middle the the bottom up and over the middle like an envelope. Remove a small amount of dough to be used as the strips to cover the eggs, you need to roll out 6-8 strips. Cover and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.While the dough is resting cut up the pancetta, salami and cheese into cubes
- Roll the dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick about 16×10 inches (40×27 cm) in size, sprinkle with 1/2 the grated pecorino or parmesan, then top with the cubed salami, pancetta and cheese, sprinkle again with the remaining pecorino.
- Roll the dough lengthwise, but not too tightly, form into a circle and place it in a greased 10 inch tube or bundt pan. Place 3-4 eggs on the dough spread apart and keep them in place with strips of rolled out dough, wet the ends of the dough with a little water to help it stick.
- Cover the pan and let it rise in a warm draft free area for approximately 2 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
- Brush the risen dough with the egg wash and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden. If the bread is browning too much cover with foil and continue baking. Cool on a wire rack. Eat warm or room temperature. Enjoy!
- In a small bowl beat together the egg and water.