About this recipe:Casatiello is a the most famous Easter bread in Italy. Typical of Naples, it is served on Easter morning with cheese and cured meat. It's a rich bread made with rustic ingredients as the tradition calls for, and is decorated with the classic "trapped" eggs.
Makes: 1 (1 kg) casatiello bread
40g fresh yeast
370ml warm water
650g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
225g lard, at room temperature
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino romano
100g ciccioli or Italian salami cut in chunks (see note)
6 whole eggs
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In a bowl dissolve the yeast in 120ml of warm water.
Sift the flour with the salt on a work surface; make a well in the centre and fill with the dissolved yeast and 50g of the lard. Start kneading adding as much water as the dough will absorb, about 250ml more.
Knead for about 10 minutes until you get a smooth and soft dough. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 90 minutes in a warm place.
Transfer the dough back to the work surface, knock it back gently to deflate a little and roll into a big rectangle: brush the top with about 1/3 of the remaining lard, sprinkle with the Parmesan and some pepper. Fold in half to make a smaller rectangle. Brush again the top with 1/3 of lard and sprinkle with Pecorino romano and pepper.
Fold again the dough and brush with the remaining lard and spread the Italian salami in chunks. Cut away a handful of dough and set aside.
Roll the dough to form a long cylinder and place in an oiled ring cake mould. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 3 hours or until more than doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven to 160 C / Gas 2/3.
Wash and pat dry the whole raw eggs and space out in the ring dough, with the top towards the centre. With the reserved handful of dough make 12 small ropes and lay 2 over each egg, in a cross shape, to "trap" the eggs inside the bread.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until golden. Remove from oven, let cool and serve.
This traditional bread calls for ciccioli, pressed cakes of fatty pork typical of old rustic Italian cuisine. They are made by compressing, drying, and aging fatty, leftover pieces of pork. They are very hard to find, just replace with salami chunks.