The Casatiello Napoletano (Easter Bread from Naples) is a bakery product of the Neapolitan culinary tradition, with ancient origins. With its filling rich in cheese and sausages, it was a special dish, which was prepared only during celebrations, required a long leavening and was cooked in a wood-fired oven. Over time it has become one of the symbolic dishes of Easter Week in Campania region.
If the name derives from the cheese-based filling: ‘caso’ in Neapolitan, the appearance recalls the symbolism of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. The circular shape represents the crown of thorns and the eggs caged by a cross are the symbol of rebirth. There is no single Casatiello recipe, but many variations depending on the Campania region, and from family to family, so that on Easter Monday you can also taste ten different casatielli in the same picnic. In addition to the rustic preparation, there is also the sweet version of Casatiello, composed of eggs, sugar, lard and glaze, and decorated on the surface with diavulilli (Neapolitan for «colored sprinkles»): this variant is common in the beautiful city [ndr ;-P] of Caserta and in the Vesuvian coastal area.
For the Casatiello dough, place the flour, lard, diluted yeast in a little bit of warm water (the correct temperature of this must be about 30 °), water, sugar and pepper in the planetary mixer; operate the planetary mixer and when the ingredients begin to blend, add the salt. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes to make it perfectly homogeneous and elastic. Once ready, let it rest in a large container, covered with a cloth, in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume.
Once the Casatiello mixture is ready spread it shaping as a rectangle of about 40x60cm; cut a strip of dough 2 cm wide which will be used for the final decoration.
Cut cheeses and cold cuts into cubes, distribute them mixed over the entire surface of the dough, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and pecorino, then roll the dough until you get a sausage long enough to fill the cake tin at 360 °, previously greased with lard.
Cover the Casatiello with a cloth and let it rise again for an hour. Finally distribute the whole eggs on the surface with the shell, block them with two crossed pasta strips. Brush the casatiello with the remaining egg and cook in a preheated oven at 185 ° for at least 50 minutes, or at least until cooked.
With the doses indicated here, the dough will be very soft; for the less experienced cookers, the dose of water can be reduced by 80ml (use 420ml) in order to obtain a slightly firmer dough and to work it more easily.
If you cannot find the lard you can substitute it with olive oil, margarina or butter.
The Casatiello can be kept well covered for 3-4 days at room temperature and in a cool but well-covered area with a film or under a glass bell. You can freeze it if you want, once cooked and cooled complete with eggs.