Make Ahead

Easter Cheese Crescia

April  1, 2014
9 Ratings
  • Makes a 10 inch wide, 8 inch tall bread
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Karen Brooks
    Karen Brooks
  • cucina di mammina
    cucina di mammina
  • abbyarnold
  • 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.

10 Reviews

Karen B. October 6, 2018
Does the pan need to be greased?
baker2 March 28, 2015
We make a version of this to which we add a bit of bourbon. I am curious how far in advance this can be made and if in fact it can be frozen? Our version is very earthy and dry and ours is very textured much like a peasant bread, not at all smooth and moist as some I see online
It would help if I could do this a few days ahead of time or make and freeze it once cooled.
Valentina S. March 30, 2015
Hello! Bourbon? Wow, I never heard of that! Where are you from if I may ask?
Anyway, this Crescia in particular contains quite a lot of fat, so it tends to stay moist for a while. Some people even make this a week in advance and leave it whole until Easter, but I'd say that, once cut, it's at its best for a couple of days.
You can definitely make it and freeze it! You can thaw it at room temperature and then warm it up again in the oven. my family does that often.
Thank you for your comment!
baker2 March 30, 2015
We are Sicilian but the recipe I am using is one from a northern Roman family who were in-laws of my mother's sister. We share the Easter holiday with this aunt and family so this is the traditional recipe they have always used and must be prepared each Easter. I am listing the differences in the recipe. I think, like all Italian recipes they vary by region and the cook. We use 12 eggs, 1 t cinnamon, 1 full shot of whiskey/bourbon whichever we have on hand, 1 stick of butter instead of lard, no milk or olive oil and a bit more flour. We use 1 1/2 heaping cups of grated parm and romano cheeses. The starter is about the same. By that I mean the recipe reads regarding the starter, "enough water to liquify but leave (yeast) on thick side" :-).
Thank you for the hint regarding freezing and making this ahead of time.
Happy Easter
cucina D. April 12, 2014
I love this recipe... My famiglia always made a sweet Easter cake but this ricette is so much more my style. Thank you for sharing the story of your grandparents and I just love the old photo :)... adding this lovely ricette da la famiglia to my spring recipe collection.
Valentina S. April 13, 2014
Your family probably made the version from Romagna. Savory focaccia is from Marche - actually I never learned about sweet crescia until last year!
abbyarnold April 7, 2014
The fresh yeast is not listed, either! And can I use dried yeast?
Valentina S. April 8, 2014
I must have been on another planet when I uploaded this recipe....thanks for letting me know, just fixed it!
So, fresh yeast here is recommended as it is usually a bit more powerful, but I don't see why you couldn't substitute dried. Substitute 0.5 Oz dried yeast for 1.7 oz fresh.
Bobobielio April 7, 2014
How much milk? Not listed in recipe.
Valentina S. April 7, 2014
Ack, you're right! So sorry, you're right! I just fixed it. As written, a scant half cup. Start with a little less, and add more if needed. It has to be just enough to knead everything.