Makes 1 Large Round Loaf
This recipe is from an old friend of my mother, Rena Petregani, who came from the village of Famo in the region of the Marches. She prepared all the food for my mother's wedding over fifty years ago. Crescia - its name comes from the word for "to grow" - is traditionally made for the Easter holiday and eaten with sausage. This makes a beautiful ten-inch round bread.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm (110º - 115ºF) water
1/4 cup warm (110º - 115ºF) milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
7 large eggs, at room temperature, well beaten
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (5 ounces)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 1/2 to 7 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and stir to dissolve. Cover and let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes, or until foamy.
Add the milk to the yeast mixture, and whisk in the butter. Whisk in the eggs, then add the cheese and pepper. Add 6½ cups flour, about a cup at a time, and mix with your hands until a soft ball of dough is formed, adding additional flour if necessary until the dough is no longer sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Generously grease a large bowl with olive oil, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Knead it into a smooth ball. Place the bread on a greased cookie sheet or in a greased tube pan and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Bake the crescia for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is nicely browned. If using a tube pan, let the crescia cool slightly, then carefully remove it to a cooling rack. Serve the crescia warm, cut into slices.
This recipe appears in both Nella Cucina and Celebrations Italian Style by Mary Ann Esposito.
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