Food History

Easter Cheese Crescia

April  7, 2014

Every other week, we’re unearthing Heirloom Recipes -- dishes that have made their way from one generation's kitchen to the next.

Today: Valentina Solfrini of Hortus Cuisine shares an Italian Easter recipe that marks a celebratory end of Lent. 

As a child, waking up on Easter Sunday felt almost like the resurrection that is celebrated that very day: It meant a joyful lunch after Mass, all while bathed in the newly found sunlight of May. 

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My grandfather -- who always worked as hard as his arms would allow him and never thought one should fit comfortably in a pair of farmer's shoes --- wore cologne and combed his hair back with grease. He smoked with an Alain Delon-esque allure as he waited for my grandma to put on her best coat and go to Mass.

(My grandparents next to a haystack in 1951, when she was 17 and he was 23. A great-great uncle of mine, who lived in the city and worked as a photographer, took the picture.) 

The previous day, she would put freshly laid eggs into a basket and bring them to the priest, so that he could impart his blessing upon them. Then she would make Crescia, which she and my grandfather would eat with hard-boiled eggs and cold cuts as a pre-Mass breakfast. They would then drive off on their old, cream-colored Fiat 600. After 40 days of Lent, celebration was in order; the richness of the Crescia summed up their feeling of post-Lent satisfaction in a most outstanding fashion.

I collected this recipe from scraps found in my grandma's old notebook, which had been buried in a closet for several years. Her staggering calligraphy, studded with grammar mistakes (common in unschooled Italian elders), described a process which most American home cooks would look at with heaps of frustration:

  • Mix part of the flour with one egg. 
  • Let rest. 
  • Add other ingredients and let raise. 
  • Bake. 



That befuddling recipe skipped several essential steps, to say the least. To this day, she is the only one who makes the Crescia every year, so a talk was in order. I visited her to ask for clarifications and details.

"Well, but that's all there is to it, no?" she said in the local dialect, waving her hands. "What else could I ever tell you? Let's just make it and you'll see."

In her world, where knowledge was only perpetrated through experience, she had a point. 

This is food for rebirth, after all. It is very important to cook it well and, most of all, it is very important to do it with your family.  Today, I am putting my gift of being able to write to good use and proudly share this recipe with the world -- all details included. 

Easter Cheese Crescia 

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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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  • Renee Pearman
    Renee Pearman
  • Shikha Kaiwar
    Shikha Kaiwar
  • Valentina Solfrini
    Valentina Solfrini
24 Year old Italian web dev, Graphic and UI designer who, like many designers, got seduced by food photography. I talk to way too many random people when in New York and to way too many random animals when I'm in the Italian countryside. I run, a blog about Italian, natural vegetarian cooking.


Renee P. April 12, 2014
This I am going to do....found it just in time, Passover Sunday is tomorrow. You must be my daughters age, roughly. My Mom and Dad had me in 1952!! What a wonderful picture!!
Valentina S. April 13, 2014
Yes, my mom was born in 1951 and I am 23! Let me know how it turns out if you make it!
Shikha K. April 8, 2014
I can definitely see this being amazing with savory toppings like avocado, cheese, and a generous sprinkling of black pepper!
Valentina S. April 13, 2014
The crescia itself is already loaded with cheese and black pepper I can't even imagine what it would be to top it with more! But Yes, this is good with pretty much anything :)