Pizza al formaggio, Italian Easter cheese bread. Where for cheese we essentially mean cacio, that is, Pecorino. It is a tasty yeast bread with plenty of Pecorino and pepper, that accompanies charcuterie on the Easter breakfast table. The recipe is traditional in the Lazio area and is a family recipe from my uncle, zio Angelo.
Pizza al formaggio
Although Pizza al formaggio is traditional at Easter time in central Italy, in my opinion it should be enjoyed throughout the year. It makes a delicious accompaniment to cheese, olives, and cured meats on an antipasto night, and it is also great to snack on.
A family recipe
This Pizza al formaggio, Italian Easter cheese bread has been on our Easter brekfast table since I was little, always made by my uncle Angelo, who calls it Pizza di cacio. Although it is called pizza, it is, in fact, no pizza at all. In other regions, a similar bread is called Crescia.
This is the recipe he gave me (and makes two):
6 eggs, 50 g of good olive oil, 250 g grated Pecorino, 50 g (2 cubes) of fresh yeast (in Italy called lievito di birra), salt and pepper as little or as much as you want, butter to grease the tin, and an egg yolk to brush on top.
I then realized there was no mention to flour. But as you may already know, the flour, in most old traditional recipes, is added "quanta se ne prende", as much as it takes for the dough to not be sticky anymore.
I halved his recipe, and measured the flour until I had a soft dough that wouldn't stick on my hands.
Pizza al formaggio, a yeast bread
All in all, making Pizza al formaggio, Italian Easter cheese bread is not difficult. The ingredients are basic and few. The preparation can be done by hand in a bowl, like I usually do, or in a stand mixer. The only thing required is patience to let the dough rise.
- Crumble the yeast in 2-3 tablespoons of lukewarm milk and let it sit until it bubbles.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add the grated Pecorino and stir. Next, add a good pinch of salt, and the pepper. Next, add the oil, and stir again. Add the yeast and stir to incorporate. Now, keep adding the flour and mix with a wooden spoon or a fork at first, until it starts to come together. Add more flour, and use your hands to bring the mixture into a dough.
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a few minutes until the dough doesn't stick to your hands but it is still soft. Grease a deep sided tin or baking dish with butter.
- Place the dough into the tin, cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and leave in a warm place for 3 to 5 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Beat 1 egg yolk with a few drops of water and brush the top of the dough.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the surface is golden and the dough springs back when you press down. Leave to cool on a rack, then turn out.
- Cut into slices and enjoy with charcuterie.
A note on the baking tin: I used a 20 cm (8 inch) deep sided tin made of aluminum. To make a taller cake, use an 18 cm (7 inch) tin. In Italy, the traditional ones are smaller at the bottom and wider on top.
Easter Monday, Pasquetta
Easter Monday, in Italy, is a festive day. It is called Pasquetta, little Easter. Usually, Italian families head to the countryside, or parks, beaches, lakes, for a picnic. The Spring weather is normally warm and enjoying the outdoors is very much appreciated. Slices of this pizza al formaggio, together with salami and other cold cuts would be particularly suitable to take along to share. Oftentimes, alongside a good frittata di pasta.
Happy Easter Monday!Print