- Dish type
- Italian bread
Crescia is a yeast bread that's traditionally served in central Italy for Easter breakfast. It's flavoured with Pecorino and Parmesan and typically served with more cheese and cured meat. You need to prepare the dough and let it rise overnight.
1 person made this
- 400g bread flour
- 4g dried active yeast
- 60ml warm water
- 120ml warm milk
- 5 eggs
- 50g grated Pecorino cheese
- 50g grated Parmesan cheese
- 50g butter or lard
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 dash white wine
- 1 scant tablespoon salt
MethodPrep:2hr ›Cook:45min ›Extra time:1day rising › Ready in:1day3hr45min
- Dissolve half the yeast in warm water; it will look frothy. Place the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon to obtain a sticky dough. Cover with a clean, damp drying cloth; set in a warm, dry place and let the dough rise overnight.
- Dissolve the remaining yeast in 60ml warm milk; add to the dough. Knead on a clean work surface until you reach a smooth dough. Cover with a clean, damp drying cloth; set in a warm, dry place for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Grease 1 panettone paper mould or 2 tall and narrow baking moulds.
- Mix the eggs, grated Parmesan and Pecorino, butter, oil, wine, lemon juice and salt together in a bowl. Add this mixture to the dough, kneading in well until smooth. Place the dough in the paper mould, cover and let it rise for 2 hours longer.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack and serve.
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(2)
Italian Easter cheese bread – crescia al formaggio
There are dishes that warm up our heart and soul and for me one of these dishes is Italian Easter cheese bread – crescia al formaggio. This leavened savory bread/cake is traditionally baked during the Easter period in Umbria. Nowadays it is very popular and it can be bought all year round in many Umbrian bakeries. When I was a student I used to buy it still lukewarm and I ate it for lunch between one course and another.
When I recently met a food blogger who lives in Gubbio I immediately asked her for the original and tested recipe. Her name is Marta and her blog is called In cucina con mia sorella. She kindly gave me this recipe and I almost have not made any changes. I trust the experience and tradition of her family that has been preparing this crescia for many years.
This Easter Italian bread is very tasty, rich in various types of cheese, perfect to be eaten with a glass of red wine. The smell during cooking is absolutely overwhelming and it takes a lot of inner strenght to not eat while it still very hot as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Crescia al Formaggio - Italian Cheese Bread
This is an old Italian bread recipe, usually only for Holidays. Even though this version is for a bread maker machine, it can be made just like ordinary bread. It is very rich, and baking it gives the house a wonderful smell.
- 105min Duration
- 90min Cook Time
- 15min Prep Time
- 1 loaf Servings Servings
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 cup warm milk (just barely warm)
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups Pecarino-Romano cheese, freshly grated ( I usually use 1 cup romano and one cup parmesan)
- 3 cups bread machine flour
- 1 tsp bread machine yeast
- 1 tsp coarse black pepper
Add all ingredients in the order listed.
Set the bread machine to dough and start. (If your dough cycle doesn't have a rise period, set for white bread and remove after the first rise.)
After the first rise remove from the machine and punch down the dough.
Place in an oiled pan or leave in the bread machine pan.
Cover and place in a warm (not hot), draft free place.
Let the dough rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 60 minutes, or until golden brown and a hollow sound is heard, when the bottom on the pan is tapped.
Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
How do you make a crescia?
The entire beautiful bread begins with the yeast! You must proof your yeast and it does take a little patience.
- add the water to the bowl of the mixer, heat it up until it’s about 110F.
- stir in the sugar
- sprinkle on yeast
- let it do its magic and proof, do not touch it while it blooms (could take 10-15 minutes)
It would have been better if her package had arrived the week before or even after Easter to just keep it simple. But I have to say, slices of salami and cheese and olives are what you eat with this gorgeous crescia!
some notes on this recipe:This dough is really easy to put together. It is a yeast dough, but fear not! It’s worth taking a little time to wait for the yeast to proof and get this dough started. I love to make quick breads, but when I find the time, I will happily make a yeast bread. Trust me, I know this looks like there were no problems, and I have braided countless breads, but something threw me off in braiding this loaf.
I had my 3 sections divided, but something wasn’t looking right in the loaf once it was braided. So I took the section apart and rolled them out again. I persisted until it looked right, and this dough was forgiving. The scent of this Italian cheese bread baking is absolutely heavenly! I cannot wait to bake another one this weekend!
Pin it to your EASTER, HOLIDAY, or BREAD Board to SAVE for later! Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes! I am always pinning :)!
Crescia: Easter Cheese Bread
Crescia is a tall, golden Pecorino Romano Easter cheese bread hailing from Umbria.
Crescia is a traditional Umbrian bread loaded with cheese that is typically made every Easter, although I have found this bread sold year round though in many bread shops and even some of our local grocery stores. This bread is very impressive to look at as it rises to a tall golden dome and is flecked with pieces of cheese.
Although I love the bread simply sliced and eaten as is, it is great toasted for breakfast with eggs, and goes really well with cured meats and salami.
Pecorino Romano, rather than Parmisiano Reggiano is the typical cheese used here in Umbria and is the cheese of choice used in this bread. Pecorino is a hard, salty cheese that is often used for grating. Pecorino is made out of sheep’s milk, and pecora is the Italian name for sheep. For this traditional Umbrian bread, I combined both aged, grated pecorino, as well as some softer (younger) pecorino that I diced. I have made this recipe many times now, and found I preferred the diced cheese to be a little larger in size which creates nice little cheesy pockets that bake into the bread. Our eggs here in Italy have very dark yolks which creates a very golden yellow colored bread, but when I make this bread in the US, I found it turned out quite a bit lighter in color than what is shown in these photos. I have used both two small soufflé dishes, or one large soufflé dish with good results. Obviously, if you are using he smaller baking dishes, you will need to reduce the baking time by about ten minutes.
Crescia al Formaggio: A Bread for Easter
My sister Michele and I have been on a sensory journey lately–one of food smells and tastes that invoke fond recollections. Looking at old photos doesn’t even come close. Especially now with the pandemic forcing a long period without family get-togethers and holiday celebrations, reliving favorite memories through our favorite foods gives us hope for making new memories filled with family and food in the not-too-distant future.
Recently we posted about our Mom’s comforting winter Italian Wedding Soup Chicken with Wine, which can fill a room with its irresistible aroma and the non-Italian–but everyone’s favorite–Molasses Crumb Cake. As the aromas of these dishes fill our kitchens, they also fill our hearts with nostalgia. Powerful emotions come with the flood of memories: some of warm supportive family gatherings around a big table, others of big fights and loud arguments (about what, exactly, we can’t remember).
All these smells and tastes didn’t fill just our house. We were lucky enough when we were young children to have our grandparents as well as our Aunts Annie and Mary living in the original family home just a few blocks away. Michele and I both spent a lot of time there as kids, playing and hanging out after school. Our aunts Mary and Annie were really second parents for us. Saturday road trips in Aunt Annie’s Monte Carlo the Land of Make Believe and late night coffee chats with Aunt Mary are still strong memories with both of us.
My Aunt Annie by her own admission couldn’t boil water, but my Aunt Mary was a wonderful cook. I so clearly remember the taste of my Aunt Mary’s mouth-watering Crescia al Formaggio (or as we knew it, just crescia), which she made around Easter. This savory bread gets its name from the Italian verb crescere – to rise. Its name is a pun on both the effect of yeast in the bread and the resurrection of Christ.
Aunt Mary at right, with our grandmother Maria, grandfather Giuseppe and Aunt Annie
I remember the smell of this bread baking but even more the taste, especially when toasted and spread with a little butter. Its combination of cheeses and black pepper was a constant at breakfast or for snacks during the Easter season. My dad used to soak up the leftover spaghetti sauce on his plate with it.
This recipe comes straight from the Marche region of Italy where our paternal grandfather Giuseppe was born. It uses my Aunt Mary’s recipe with some tweaks from my Italian cousin Massimo Becci’s wife Maria they still live in the very house where our grandfather and his brother, Massimo’s grandfather, grew up. You can read some of this backstory in a previous post.
This recipe is all about the cheese, so this is the time to spring for good-quality cheeses: Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, as well as Asiago or Fontina melting cheeses. Good-quality olive oil is also important.
In trying different baking recipes recently, I came across an approach from Jessica Gavin for using your oven as a makeshift proofing box. I quite like this idea, as it will speed up the proofing time considerably. Just check the dough occasionally so you don’t shoot past the doubled size. I’ve tried this several times for different baking recipes and it works great!
Try this recipe and enjoy crescia during this Easter season, for breakfast or for an afternoon snack. It’s an invitation to embark on your own sensory journey!
How to Make Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs
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Crescia (Italian cheese bread) recipe - Recipes
This cheesy bread is eaten all over Italy during Easter. It is baked in a flower pot or coffee can to give it a shape similar to panettone.
Italian Easter Cheese Bread Recipe
Crescia al Formaggio
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 cup warm milk (just barely warm)
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups Pecarino-Romano cheese, freshly grated
- 3 cups bread machine flour
- 1 tsp bread machine yeast
- Add all ingredients in the order listed.
- Set the bread machine to dough and start. (If your dough cycle doesn't have a rise period, set for white bread and remove after the first rise.)
- After the first rise remove from the machine and punch down the dough.
- Place in an oiled pan or leave in the bread machine pan.
- Cover and place in a warm (not hot), draft free place.
- Let the dough rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Bake in the oven at 350F, for 60 minutes, or until golden brown and a hollow sound is heard, when the bottom on the pan is tapped.
- Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
Note: Some cooks like to coat the bread with an egg wash to give it a glossy look. You can also sprinkle a little cheese on top 15 minutes before the bread is finished baking.
This bread makes an excellent breakfast bread. It's not sweet, but makes a nice change to many regular breads. Slice it, toast, and spread with a little chèvre for a quick breakfast that will satisfy.
Bella Italian Food Recommends
Kaiser Bakeware Classic 7-Inch Panettone Pan
A great pan for Crescia al Formaggio or panettone. Unlike your bread machine pan, there is no paddle to get stuck in the bread. This is a good size for one loaf. It's made of heavy gauge steel with a nonstick coating. I like the springform that allows you to easily remove the bread.
Content copyright © 2021 by Paula Laurita. All rights reserved.
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30g beer yeast
150g grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
50g fresh pecorino cheese
1 glass of milk
1 spoon of sugar
salt and pepper to taste.
Slightly warm the milk then dissolve the yeast in it.
Leave for a few moments, then slowly add the flour, which has been mixed with the sugar, followed by the beaten eggs and a little salt.
Knead the mixture for at least 15 minutes to create a smooth, elastic dough. At this point add the butter in pieces.
Knead again then leave the dough in a warm place for at least two hours.
Return to the bread mixture and work it again adding the lard and both cheeses.
Place in a suitable bread oven tray and leave for a further hour.
Now it is finally ready to cook in a pre-heated oven at 200°c for around an hour.
View the video below to see how the version from Gubbio is a lot thicker than the familiar piadina.
Crescia – The Easter Bread from Le Marche
My Family came to Canada in 1913 from the town of Pesaro in the Province of Le Marche, Italy. Over the years, traditions were lost or no longer practiced as my ancestors blended more into the Canadian fabric. But, Crescia has always survive the test of time and it has now been alive and well for 4 generations in our Canadian family. I’m sure it’s not the same as the one my great-grandmother (Bisnonna Laura) made, but I hope it’s a close resemblance.
Crescia is a vastly different bread, depending on the region of its origins. It can be as thin as focaccia or as high as the crescia that originated in Pesaro. The later is the one that my Family has made for generations, though it was denser and did not rise as high as the one that I make. But, it is similar in its signature ingredients of eggs, pepper and cheese.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Easter breads are so laden with eggs. As you backyard chicken owners know, heritage breed hens take a break from laying eggs during the Winter and resume their production in the Spring which happens to coincide with Easter. As well, eggs, cheese, meat and olive oil were historically omitted from the diet in Italy during the period of Lent so everyone must have been “chompin’ at the bit” to return to these foods after those 40 bland days!
1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
6 Large Eggs (Thank you ladies!)
2 Tablespoons Coarse Black Pepper (Decrease to your palate)
2 Cups Grated Romano Cheese (Parmesan or Pecorino substitute)
Add the yeast and sugar to warm water and mix. Let it sit for 5 minutes until bubbly.
In another bowl, beat the 6 eggs and add olive oil, salt, pepper and grated cheese.
Add the yeast mixture to the egg mixture and gently stir until it is all combined.
Add half of the flour mixture and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Continue adding the flour, about 1 cup at a time, until completely mixed. I find that by the addition of the 4th cup of flour, the mixture must be mixed by hand.
Once the dough is completely mixed, take it out of the bowl and begin kneading on a floured surface. If the dough is too sticky, just add a bit of flour to the countertop until it no longer sticks. Continue kneading for 10 minutes.
At this point, the dough should be smooth and have an “elastic” feel. Wash out your mixing bowl, dry, and lightly coat the bottom and sides of the bowl with some olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over a few times in order to coat the dough. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel. This will prevent the top of the dough from drying out.
Now it’s time to let the dough rise in a warm place. I set a table up near my wood stove and leave it there for around 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the dough as doubled in size. In order to obtain a fairly even heat, I turn the bowl a 1/4 turn every 15 minutes or so. You can use your oven or bread proofer if you have one. I simply use the wood stove because I generally have it on during the weekends and it creates a nice heat for the dough, providing that you don’t have it too close (80-90 F is a good target).
Once the dough has doubled in size, it is time to “punch” it down and knead for a second time. The dough should have a spongy feel and easily fold into itself when kneaded. Continue kneading for 5 minutes.
Once the dough has been kneaded, place it in a greased pan. Make sure to coat the entire interior of the pan. I use a panettone pan because it is deep and this bread is going to rise really high!
Once again, it is down to the wood stove for a second rise. Make sure to cover the pan with a damp tea towel so that the top of the dough does not dry out. Continue the second rise for around 1 – 1 1/2hrs or until it has doubled in size again.
Pre-heat oven to 375 F, lightly oil the top of the bread with olive oil and place in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Once done, the top should be golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it rest in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully take the crescia out of the pan and let it cool on the rack.
Buona Pasqua to all! Bisnonna…I hope I made you proud!
Feel free to drop me a line and let me know how you made out in making your Crescia!