Easter is a big food holiday in Italy, so this year we're taking inspiration from The Boot and trying out some of their most beloved spring holiday dishes. Mary Ann Esposito, host of the KCET cooking show Ciao Italia, created an Easter bread recipe based on one her grandmother used to cook. The whole eggs, baked into the pastry while still in the shell, are a trademark of Mediterranean Easter dishes. As for the meat inside the bread, use any Italian cold cuts you prefer. And have a fun Easter!
Neapolitan Stuffed Easter Bread
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 ounces lard or 1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 pound chunk provolone or scamorza cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 pound chunk mortadella, salami, or boiled ham cut into cubes
Salt to taste
Grinding black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 10 inch tube pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and allow to get foamy looking. Heap the flour on a work surface or add it to the work bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the yeast, lard or olive oil, salt and pepper and work it into the flour; add the cheese and enough additional warm water to make a soft ball of dough. Cover and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place, or until it doubles in size.
Punch down the dough and break off a large orange-size piece and set aside.
Knead the remaining dough and roll out into a large 18 by 14-inch rectangle and scatter the cheese and meat over the surface to within an inch of the edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Starting at the longest side, roll the dough up as for a jellyroll, making sure to tuck in the ends and place it in the tube pan. Tuck the two ends together.
Cover and allow to rise for about 1 hour or until the dough is 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan.
Place 3 of the eggs randomly on the top of the dough, pressing them in to anchor them. Divide the saved piece of dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a 4-inch-long length. Use two pieces to make a cross over each egg. Beat the remaining egg with a fork and brush it over the surface of the dough.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack then run a butter knife along the inside edges of the pan, and loosen the bottom and remove it. Turn the bread out. Serve warm, cut into wedges.
Click here for "Ciao Italia" showtimes!