My kids long for Easter. The glory of the Resurrection? That’s nice, but what they really crave is Easter Bread, also known as “casarella” (which is pronounced, for some reason, “casadeel” in my family’s special Foggianese dialect that makes the rest of the boot of Italy shiver in horror.)
Easter Bread is, essentially, pizza dough rolled up with parmesan cheese and bacon. (I apologize to my Jewish readers: this is about as forbidden for Passover as food can get; you can’t even sub mushrooms for the bacon until next week.)
If you want a recipe, here it is. Enjoy!
Easter Bread (Casarella)
- 1 package of dry yeast
- 1 ¾ cups of warm water
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- about 5 cups of flour
- 1 pound of bacon
- ½ to ¾ pound block of Romano or Parmesan cheese (not ground)
- Heat the water. Add yeast, sugar, salt and oil. Mix well.
- Put 4 cups of flour into a mixing bowl. Add water mixture. Stir well.
- Knead dough until it is pliable and easily handled, adding approximately 1 more cup of flour in the process
- Set aside in a well-oiled bowl, covered, to rise for approximately 4 hours. (If you have more time, punch the dough down at the halfway point for extra-airy dough.) Note: This is how you make home-made pizza dough as well.
- Fry the pound of bacon. Crumble into little bits. Save the grease.
- Cut up the block of cheese into 350 chunks approximately raisin-sized.
- Roll the dough out into a circular or oval shape, making sure your rolling surface is well-floured (otherwise the dough will stick to the table or the countertop.) Roll it to approximately ¼ to ½ inch thickness, about the same thickness as a pre-baked pizza. It should be thin but not so thin that it will rip when handled.
- Spread the bacon bits evenly across the surface, making sure to get the edges. Repeat with the cheese chunks.
- Forget all about that “cholesterol” stuff they tell you in medical journals and sprinkle bacon grease over the surface of the dough. Not much — maybe two or three tablespoons at the most.
- Roll the dough up so it forms a long roll with the dough and the fillings forming a spiral inside, like a cinnamon bun. Pinch the ends down to seal it. Place the Easter bread on a baking pan, curving it so it forms almost a circle. If you’re really adventuresome, a little more bacon grease will help it brown up.
- Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes or until it’s golden and makes a hollow sound when you tap it. Some grease might accumulate outside the bread, so you’ll want a pan with at least a small lip.
- To serve, cut it vertically in 2- to 3-inch size pieces. It works well hot or cold, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack, and although the FDA would have a heart attack, my mother insists you don’t have to refrigerate it. (Quite possibly because it never lasts longer than five hours.) But I do it anyhow.