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Author Notes: This recipe originates in the Italian region of Marche. It is a mountainous place which extends from the eastern coast to the inland of Appennini, where its woods and wilderness call for earthy recipes and gutsy flavors. This heavily loaded savory 'panettone', is the very symbol of the end of Lent, when, after a long fast, came the time to enjoy rich meals in honor of Christ's resurrection. It is traditionally eaten with eggs - a symbol of Easter, and cold cuts.
You can skip using lard and use well seasoned vegetarian cheeses to make this vegetarian. - Valentina Solfrini
Makes a 10 inch wide, 8 inch tall bread
- 3.5 ounces Sourdough starter, or leftover bread or pizza dough
- 4 cups Bread Flour (17.6 oz)
- 5 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Flavorful olive oil
- 1.7 ounces Lard (substitute with a bit more oil if not using)
- 3.5 ounces Mix of grated Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 1 tablespoon Pepper
- 1/2 cup (scant) Milk
- 1.7 ounces Fresh yeast
- Mix one of the eggs and a couple tablespoons of the flour with the starter. knead to combine all ingredients and leave to rest for an hour.
- After this time, melt the fresh yeast in the milk before adding it to the starter. Add it along all the other ingredients to a mixer, and knead until combined. Alternatively, you can knead it by hand. You should end up with a dough that you can handle well and is not overly sticky, albeit quite soft. Add a splash more milk if it feels too tough, but it shouldn't be the case. It will be positively oily.
- Put your dough into the baking vessel, which ideally should be a high cylindrical pan like the ones used for Panettone (see note below). Leave it to proof, well covered with plastic, away from currents and in a warm environment until doubled in size, which should take 2 to 2 and a half hours.
- 30 minutes before your dough is ready, preheat the oven to 390 F?. Once fully proofed, bake the Crescia for 5 minutes before turning down the oven to 350 F?. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until well browned on top and fully cooked throughout. Enjoy alone or with cold cuts.
- A NOTE ON THE BAKING VESSEL: Ideally, you should use a tall, cylindrical pan. These pans can also be made of paper. If you can't find it, use the cake pan with the tallest edges you have, as the Crescia will rise.
- A NOTE ON YEAST AND SOURDOUGH: You can skip the sourdough and use more fresh yeast. In that case, use 0.9 oz more yeast. Fresh yeast is usually sold in the US in 0.6 oz cubes or in 0.9 oz cubes. Still, using bread dough or sourdough starter will get you a fluffier result.