Neapolitan Stuffed Easter Bread

April 7, 2017

The casatiello is a savory filled Neapolitan Easter bread. Casatiello means caccio or cheese in dialect because of the use of cheese in the dough and in the filling. The rising dough meant the promise of new life; the shape of the bread symbolized a crown and the eggs meant rebirth. There are many variations of this stuffed bread but it is one of those antique recipes not made at home anymore and Neapolitans are likely to buy them at their local bakery. That is a pity since homemade is so much better and the tradition lives on.
Neapolitan Casatiello
Neapolitan Stuffed Easter Bread
Makes One Large 10- 1/2 inch round loaf
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup grated Pecorino cheese
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 chunk provolone or scamorza cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 pound chunk salame, mortadella or ham cut into cubes
Salt to taste
Grinding black pepper
4 eggs
Grease a 10 inch tube pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and allow to get foamy looking.
Heap the flour on a work surface or add it to the work bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the yeast, olive oil, salt and pepper and work it into the flour; add enough additional warm water to make a soft ball of dough. Cover and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place, or until it doubles in size.
Punch down the dough and break off a large orange size piece and set aside.
Knead the remaining dough and roll out into a large 18 x 14 inch rectangle and scatter the cheese and salame over the surface to within an inch of the edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Starting at the longest side, roll the dough up as for a jellyroll making sure to tuck in the ends and place it in the tube pan.

Tuck the two ends together.

Cover and allow to rise for about 1 hour or until the dough is 3/4 the way up the sides of the pan.
Place three of the eggs randomly on the top of the dough, pressing them in to anchor them.
Divide the saved piece of dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a 4 inch long length. Use two pieces to a make a cross over each egg.
Beat the remaining egg with a fork and brush the surface of the dough.

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack then run a butter knife along the inside edges of the pan, and loosen the bottom and remove it. Turn the bread out. Serve warm cut into wedges. Peel the eggs and eat them too!
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