When it comes to food, Easter doesn’t need to be just about Chocolate eggs. Why not try a traditional Italian Easter tradition and bake yourself a Savoury Italian Casatiello Napoletano or Neopolitan Easter bread.
Of course, with Easter, comes the excuse to eat mouthfuls of Chocolate Easter eggs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that! You can get creative with baking at this time of year with Easter recipes like these Creme Egg Cookies or these Mini Egg Cookies. But, it’s good to offset all that sweetness with something savoury and wholesome. That’s where this Casatiello recipe comes in. Made like a bread, it is surprisingly easy to make and even easier to eat and enjoy.
Why You’ll Love This Savoury Italian Easter Bread
- A Traditional Italian Recipe – Great, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian Easter experience.
- Easy To Make – This leavened bread is very easy to make and looks great as a centrepiece.
- Perfect for Other Occasions too – You don’t have to save it for Easter, Casatiello is great for picnics and lunchboxes too.
- A large bowl – to mix the ingredients in and to store the dough to rise.
- A wooden spoon or spatula – For mixing everything together.
- Stand mixer with a dough attachment – Not vital, but if you have one, this will save you tiring from kneading the dough.
- 20cm/8inch Ring Cake Tin (non-stick) – Also known as a Savarin Mould. Alternatively you can use a can or similar to shape the dough and keep the hole in the middle.
- A sharp knife – To cut the ingredients for the filling up.
What is Casatiello Napoletano?
Italian Casatiello is a leavened, savoury Italian cake prepared for Easter. It is a rustic style bread that is filled and flavoured with a mix of cheeses and salami.
Originating in Naples, this savoury treat is usually served on Holy Saturday and Easter Monday
Traditionally, it is leavened slowly over a 12 hour period, first being prepared on Good Friday and ready to bake on the Saturday. More recently, it can be prepared and enjoyed on the same day using a quick rise yeast.
Casatiello is usually made to be shaped like a doughnut, however you can also find it prepared without the traditional hole in the middle and shaped more like a normal cake.
- 00 Flour – Firstly, I like to use 00 flour for this recipe. You may sometimes find that a strong white bread flour like Manitoba is used. This is a high protein flour which certainly has its place in the kitchen. However, I prefer a flour with a little less protein for this recipe, it makes the consistency slightly more soft and cakey.
- Dried Yeast – For ease, I have used Easy Bake yeast for this recipe but you can also use fresh yeast if you can obtain it. The quantity of yeast you use with fresh will differ slightly and I recommend to double the quantity of dried yeast used here.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. I don’t recommend to substitute with cooking olive oil.
- Lukewarm Water – This should feel warm to the touch but not too hot, otherwise you’ll kill the yeast. Oppositely, the water should also not be too cold as this will prevent it from rising the dough.
- Black Pepper – used as a seasoning.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter here. With the salty fillings and the salt already added to the dough, there is enough already present in this recipe.
- Neopolitan Salami – This isn’t always easy to come by outside of Italy so feel feel to use a different type of salami that you choose. The flavour will obviously vary slightly depending on the one you choose, but it will still make an excellent bread. I recommend buying your salami uncut, don’t go for thinly sliced salami as it will get lost in the recipe. It is better to buy it in whole pieces and cut it into small chunks at home.
- Pecorino and Parmesan – These hard Italian cheese make an excellent addition to the flavour of this bread. However, you will also find that some people use Provola or Scamorza too. Outside of Italy you may also find the addition of cheddar in this cake, but this isn’t traditionally used.
- Eggs – These serve as the decoration on top of your cake but feel free to omit them if you’d prefer.
- Butter – Melt the butter and spread over the top of the dough before baking. The butter brush will enhance the browning process of the dough as it bakes, giving a lovely gold brown finish to your dish.
Additions and Substitutions
You can substitute your fillings slightly if you wish. Salami can be replaced with alternatives and the cheese also. You can try the addition of Scamorza, Provola or Cheddar. The latter not being a traditional filling however.
Step-By-Step How To Make Casatiello Napoletano
Step 1: Preparing the Dough and Filling
- Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water with 5g of honey.
- In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the yeast water and olive oil into the dry ingredients and mix to form a dough using your hands or a stand mixer.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it develops a sheen on the outside.
- Set the dough aside to rest.
Step 2: Preparing the Filling and Shaping the Dough
- Chop the salami and cheeses into small chunks.
- Set aside a portion of the dough to encase the eggs.
- Mix the salami and cheese into the remaining dough, distributing the fillings evenly.
- Shape the dough into a log and place it in a lined, greased 20cm/8inch ring cake tin.
- Insert the raw eggs vertically into the top of the dough, evenly spaced.
- Shape the reserved dough into smaller logs and use them to encase each egg with a cross shape, joining them to the main dough.
- Melt butter and brush it over all the exposed dough.
Step 3: Rising and Baking
- Cover the tin and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (about 1-2 hours).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
- When the Casatiello is ready and risen, bake it in the preheated oven for 60 minutes or until done.
- If the top is browning too quickly, cover it with foil and continue baking.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin.
Step 4: Serving
- Gently turn the cooled Casatiello out onto a serving plate.
- Enjoy the savory cake warm or cold.
Is there a difference between Casatiello and Tortano?
Occasionally you may hear these two names being substituted for one another. However, there is a slight difference between these two savoury Italian cakes.
The difference is in the way that the eggs are used. In a Casatiello, the eggs are used primarily as a decoration, placed raw in their shells on top of the cake and encased in little cages of dough that form a cross shape over the eggs.
A Tortano has the eggs hardboiled and placed in the dough along with the cheese and salami as part of the recipe.
Whilst the Casatiello cake is primarily eaten at Easter. You will find that a Tortano is also enjoyed throughout the year.
You can keep Casatiello in an airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature. Alternatively, you can store it airtight in the fridge and it will keep for a few more days.
In a way, yes. The ingredients are very similar. However, a Tortano incorporates the eggs within the dough. Whereas the Casatiello places them on top, in their shells and encased in a little cross of dough, representing the cross that Jesus died upon. Tortano is also enjoyed throughout the year and a Casatiello is traditionally made for Easter.
You can enjoy it warm or cold. In Italy it is traditionally eaten for breakfast during the Easter weekend or as an appetizer, snack or side dish.
Pro Tips and Guidance
- Ensure that you give your dough enough time to rise. Once placed in the cake pan, you want your dough to double in size. As with all leavened products, there isn’t an exact timing for this. Depending on the time of year and humidity of your area, the time can vary from 1-2 hours or slightly more. It is best to judge it by eye rather than the clock.
- If you don’t wish to use the eggs you can omit them if you’d prefer.
- For some ovens the timing for baking can be slightly longer, up to 75-80 minutes. If your Casatiello is getting too brown on the top, cover the tin with foil and continue baking.
How to Serve Italian Easter Bread
Traditionally, Casatiello is eaten at Breakfast time during Easter. However, it can also be enjoyed for lunch or as a side dish or snack.
At home, we like to serve it alongside extra slices of salami, butter and broken pieces of Easter egg chocolate.
- Store the Casatiello Napoletano in an airtight container or wrapped in foil at room temperature. It will keep for at least 3-4 days. Keeping it in the fridge will make it last up to a week,
- Freeze – Wrap the Casatiello up well and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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Casatiello Napoletano – Savoury Italian Easter Bread
- 550 g 00 Flour
- 15 g Dried Yeast
- 1 tsp Salt
- 100 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 300 ml Lukewarm Water
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 25 g Butter
- 150 g Neopolitan Salami
- 60 g Pecorino
- 60 g Parmesan
- 4 Eggs
- Dissolve the yeast in the water.
- Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Add the oil to the flour.
- Pour in the yeast water and mix together to form a dough.
- You can use a stand mixer with a dough attachement to knead the dough, or do it by hand for 10 minutes.
- Create a round ball with the dough and place it on a flat, floured surface and allow it to rest while you prepare the filling.
- Chop the salami and cheese into small chunks.
- Set aside about 80g of the dough for later and mix the fillings into the rest of it.
- Roll the dough into a log shape and arrange in a 20cm / 8 inch ring pan, with a hole in the middle. If you do not have one of these, you can use a normal cake tin with an empty metal can in the middle.
- Cover and leave to rise for 1-2 hours in a place at ambient room temperature.
- Place the whole eggs with the shells on evenly spaced apart, vertically in the top of the dough.
- Roll the excess dough into little logs and use these to cage and seal the eggs in a cross shape into the top of the bread.
- Brush the dough with the melted butter and cover with a cover with a clean cloth.
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Bake for 1 hour.
- When ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
- Once cooled, gently remove the bread from the tin and serve.
- Store the Casatiello in an airtight container for 3-4 days or in the fridge to prolong it for up to a week.
- Serve with Easter chocolate, butter and extra salami.
- You can try different fillings if you wish, Scamorza, Provola or Cheddar work well.
- Allow the dough enough time to rise. It may take a little longer or a little less depending on the temperature and humidity when you make it.
- You can omit the eggs if you’d prefer.
- Baking can be slightly longer in some cases, up to 75-80 minutes. If it’s getting too brown, simply cover the tope with foil and continue baking.