Crescia ~ Umbrian Easter Cheese Bread
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. Although I have bought it often, I decided it was finally time to make it myself as I thoroughly enjoy creating Umbrian specialties in my kitchen. 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. I tried a few different variations of recipes for this bread and didn’t love any of them, until I tried this recipe I adapted from Mary Ann Esposito.
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 souffle dishes, or one large souffle dish with good results. Obviously, if you are using he smaller baking dishes, you will need to educe the baking time by about ten minutes.
Deborah Mele 2015
Crescia ~ Umbrian Easter Cheese Bread
- 1 3/4 Cup Warm Water
- 1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
- 7 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Coarse Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
- 2 Cups Grated Pecorino Cheese
- 8 Cups All-purpose Flour (Or Tipo 0)
- 8 Ounces Young Pecorino Cheese Cut Into 1/2 Inch Dice
- Spray one large, or two small soufflé dishes with oil, and using a strip of parchment paper, line the top of the dish adding an additional 2 to 3 inches of height.
- Add the yeast to the water in a bowl and mix, and let sit 5 minutes until bubbly.
- In another bowl, beat first the 7 eggs, then add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated cheese.
- Add the yeast mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
- Add half the flour and stir.
- Continue to add flour one cup at a time until you create a firm dough that is not too sticky.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand, folding in the diced cheese as you work the dough.
- Knead for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has been incorporated into the dough, and the dough is smooth.
- Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil and let the dough rise until doubled, covered, in a warm spot.
- Punch down the dough and form it into a ball and place it into the prepared soufflé dish.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover the bread with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
- Bake the bread for about 55 minutes to an hour (for large souffle dish), or until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F.
- Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, remove it from the baking dish and let cool to room temperature before cutting into it.
My husband’s grandmother made this every year for Easter. The rest of the family made a version of Pizza Rustica. I like this recipe, and they don’t. Never got the recipe. She died at 103 1/2 and still helped make it the year she passed. She also put in more black pepper for the biting taste. Thank you for posting this.
My question, since it is my turn for Easter this year, have you made this ahead of time and if so how far ahead of time? Our recipe comes from a cousin’s Roman grandfather. Ours is a dry bread so I wouldn’t think sitting for an additional day or so would hurt it.
Have you frozen it?
Diana, it dries out when frozen. It is best made the day you want to eat it, or the day before.
Thanks. Love your website.
My family comes from the Marches and have made this for generations.Our recipe is a little different.
I use both Parmesan and Romano (2:1 ratio of Rom to Parm), then after putting into the baking dish, punch holes throughout the dough and stick in pieces of hard cheese. My great-grandmother always used brique, but I can’t find it anywhere anymore. I used colby jack in the one I made last night, but I usually use Monterey jack. Any hard cheese will work, but of course some blend better than others.
I thought that was part of the original recipe, but my mother told me my great-grandmother added that touch herself.
Can you explain what young pecorino is, and how I can distinguish it from the usual pecorino I buy?
Ana, a young pecorino has not been aged as long so it is much softer with a milder flavor.
My grandmother,mother (made)and I make Crecia for every holiday.I have never seen it in any cookbook or online.Myhusband thought I was making it up.
Nice to see you serve it with sliced meats,which we never have.
Would you please comment on the sizes (width and depth) of the souffle dishes you’re using. I’d love to try this recipe but I want to make sure I have the correct equipment. How deep should the pan be after I add the 3 inches of parchment? Can I use a spring form or other deep baking dish and get decent results?
The large bread is just a typical 9 or 10 inch souffle dish. I am not sure that a spring form pan has enough depth.
Do you have to use a soufflé dish or can yo you just make round loaves?
You really need deep pans which is why souffle dishes work. You could also make smaller loaves in ceramic ramekins.
My grandmother made this without the pepper. It was great!
My Aunt, who was from the Marches area of Italy, always made this bread at Easter for everyone but would never reveal the recipe. After many years her daughter in law gave it to all of us. Her recipe was very much like this one but with chunks of diced hard cheese (I use Swiss) rolled into it. Just about any hard cheese would work well . I love this bread and more people need to share this with friends and family. My Aunt also made a chicken broth noodle at Easter called Pasatelli. It’s amazing and she also would never share this recipe with anyone, but many years ago I found it in Marcella Hazan’s cookbook. Lucky me for having been able to enjoy the wonderful tastes of Italy for so many years.
WE had both growing up…from the Marches area..I never had a recipe for pasatelli…I will check out marcellas book!
Hi Pam! I am so happy to hear another enjoying the pleasures of crescia and pasatelli! How do you form the noodles? My dad made us metal forms with holes that you press the dough through. I make the dough in my stand mixer and it is such a quick and flavorful dish! It is what my family wants to come home to. I would love to talk with you!
PS The more pepper the better!!!
Could you make this in a dutch oven? If so, would it affect cooking time?
It would have to be the right size.
I remember my mother making it in a dutch oven, before she bought a “proper container”!
It was a big deal making Crescia in my family!! My mother woukd make the bread in coffee cans so she coukd share with others!! We used to “blow” the eggs instead of cracking them and paint them and they were hung on tree branches!! Oh the memories!! I didn’t learn how to make it when she was alive, so I’m looking forward to trying this recipe!!
So excited to see your recipe because until the year 2019 I thought it was only my grandmother’s. She arrived from the Marche region in 1920. She must’ve change the olive oil to Crisco plus real butter 1 pound, used 14 eggs, and 2 cups of scalded and cooled milk, cinnamon, clove, sugar. We were very poor coal miners, never saw soufflé pan, shaped the dough usually to fit in a pie pan. My cousin and I use all manner of containers depending on how much we want to share the bread. We also freeze it. Still great. I think giving it some time to set up actually marries and intensifies the cheese and pepper Serve w prosciutto or salami.
Thank you so much for this recipe. I told my fiance about my mother’s lost crescia recipe. This one is as close to her original. Many Thanks! Nello
Can I make crescia in my KitchenAid using a dough hook?
Thank you for replying so swiftly! My mom and cousins usually make the crescia but due to pandemic stuff and my mom’s advanced age, I want to give it a try this year. My mother’s parents came from Marche and crescia is super traditional for us. Thanks again!
We spent Easter in Umbria in 2019 and enjoyed crecia. Thanks for the recipe. I have one small souffle dish and 4 small ramekins. How high should the dough be in each of these?
My mother used to make “Crescia di Pasqua”! She was from FANO on the Adriatic Sea. She would add hard boiled eggs, and sausage to her recipe. People came from 50 miles away to have the Crescia and her eggnog. (Rum was the key to that!) Ma really didn’t have a “recipe” per sé, she would use whatever she had to make almost anything. I do the same, because that’s in my blood and my head!
My grandfather made something very similar. He was from Amelia in Umbria. I remember they used mostly Romano Cheese and yeast and not too much flower. Is that a different way of doing it or am I mis remembering?
I have never seen a version that did not use much flour.
My grandmother was from the Marches region of Italily. Specifically Ascoli de Picena. We ALL loved this bread and looked forward to it every Easter. We never got this recipe before she passed and I am thrilled to see it on here. I know this must be the correct bread because of the region everyone is from.
She also used to make this delicious cold ravioli that was stuffed with a chicken filling and sprinkled with cheeses. Served up cold.
Does anyome know what I am talking about?! Thanks!!! Buon Pasquale!!!