Among the typical dishes of the Neapolitan tradition stands the Casatiello, prepared on the occasion of Easter to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and often also at Christmas. There are two versions, sweet and savoury, perfect for all tastes. The salty version is more typical Neapolitan, while the sweet one is more common in Caserta.
The salty Casatiello is not the Tortano! We often get confused between the two but it is good to remember that the Casatiello is prepared with whole eggs in the upper part, while in the Tortano they are used to stuff the inside together with the other cold cuts.
The salty Casatiello
The salty Casatiello probably dates back to Greek Naples. There are literary testimonies that prove the existence of breads seasoned with various ingredients, including cheese, in latin caseus then transformed in caso in Neapolitan language and then become casatiello, that is, small cheese bread.
This salty doughnut was served during the spring festivals in honor of Demeter, or Ceres for the Romans, which later became a symbol of the Catholic Easter.
In the 17th century the Casatiello, together with the Neapolitan Pastiera, makes its appearance in the fairy tale The Cat Cinderella written by Giambattista Basile, officially entering the culinary scenario in Campania.
Bread filled with cheese and cold cuts, the salty casatiello is the king of the table during the Easter lunch, unmistakable with its fresh eggs caged in the top of the dough.
Here are the ingredients:
- 200 g of sourdough
- 250 ml of water
- 250 g of flour 0
- 250 g of flour 00
- 125 g of lard
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- pepper to taste
- 125 g of bacon
- 125 g of salami
- 250 g di spicy provolone
- 125 g of pecorino cheese
- 4 eggs
Put in a bowl the cooled sourdough 2 times before use and water at room temperature. If you want to use brewer’s yeast dissolve 12 g of brewer’s yeast with a little sugar and 30 ml of warm water. Add the flour and start kneading, then add the lard, salt, pepper and work the dough for about twenty minutes. When it is homogeneous form a ball, cover it and let rise for about 12 hours until the volume is doubled.
Then roll out the pasta until it forms a rectangle to cover with the cold cuts and cheeses, roll everything up to form a cylinder, sprinkle the mould with lard and place the casatiello inside. Then form four hollows with your hands where to place the typical caged fresh eggs.
The sweet Casatiello
Some think that this delicious dessert comes from Torre del Greco, others from the Amalfi Coast but surely it is a recipe that has been handed down for generations.
Also called Easter pine cone, this dessert has the characteristic of being prepared with the so-called criscito, that is, a yeast obtained from a dough that once was passed from house to house.
The cover is a rainbow of colors because the white glaze is studded with small colored confetti, called diavoletti, in English, little devils. A particular custom, especially in small towns, is to bake the casatiello in trusted bakeries rather than at home, so as to facilitate cooking times. In Neapolitan houses it is customary to prepare casatielli and pastiere in abundance during the Easter period, so you can give them to friends and relatives.
Usually this recipe is handed down from one generation to another and in most cases we learn it thanks to our grandmothers who never give up the tradition, waking up even at dawn to bake this delicious dessert.
Here are the ingredients:
- 500 g of flour 00
- 4 eggs
- 220 g of sugar
- 50 g of butter
- 50 g of lard
- 150 g of sourdough or biga (65 g of flour 0 + 12 g of brewer’s yeast + 30 ml of water + 1 pinch of sugar)
- 30 ml of liquore strega (liqueur bewitches)
- 1 lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
- 3 drops of lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 125 g powdered sugar
- colorful sprinkles to taste
In case you are using criscito you will need to refresh it 2 times before using it and use it 3/4 hours after the last refresh when it is at its peak of activity. If you want to use yeast, prepares a biga by dissolving 12 g of yeast, a pinch of sugar in a bowl with 30 ml of water, just warm, then add 65 grams of flour and knead to form a ball, place the dough in the oven for 1 hour or until doubled.
In a large bowl, assemble the eggs with the sugar, then combine the flour and criscito (or biga) and start kneading.
Add the soft butter, lard, liqueur bewitches, lemon peel and a tablespoon of vanilla essence and knead everything until a homogeneous mixture is obtained.
Then place the mixture in a buttered and floured mould, level the surface well and let rest in a warm place and away from drafts for 12/24 hours. The time can vary depending on the strength of the yeast, however it will be ready when it reaches almost the edge of the mould.
Bake the sweet casatiello in a static oven at 170° for about 50 minutes, when it seems cooked do the test of the toothpick to be safe.
For the frosting mix the egg white with powdered sugar and lemon drops. Spread it on top of the casatiello and then cover it with colored sprinkles. Let completely cool before serving.
What are you waiting for to prepare it for Easter?