Casatiello, the king of the Easter cakes
Casatiello, a real pride of Campania, has its highest production moment in the Easter period and its role in the Neapolitan cuisine is really important. It isn’t a random recipe, but the recipe par excellence of the holidays and the family reunions. It is a dish rich in ingredients and flavours, which has its roots in the cuisine of the past centuries.
What is Casatiello?
Casatiello is a Easter cake, ride and savoury enriched with tasty ingredients; the slow leavening make it soft, the oven cooking make it fragrant and the filling made of cold cut, lard and cheese make it nourish with a strong flavour. Casatiello has a strong traditional value, given that it is typically eaten, during the Easter period with the family and the relatives, in fact it plays an important role in the Neapolitan tradition to be handed down from a generation to another.
The history of Casatiello
It is the King of the cakes par excellence; the name derives from “caso” or cacio, which in Neapolitan dialect means cheese, abundant ingredient in the dough, whereas his history has ancient roots, strongly tied with the Christian tradition. The ring-shaped cake with the central hole symbolizes the Thorn crown of Jesus and its Passion that is celebrated during Easter. The hard-boiled eggs both in the dough and the surface, not completely covered but visible represent another important Easter symbol. The eggs are locked by two crossed stripes of dough which remind, once again, for their cross shape, the Passion of Christ. Casatiello seems a natural evolution of the Tortano where the dough is the same without the hard-boiled eggs, enclosed only in the dough, not in the surface.
The ingredients of the Casatiello
First of all, it can’t miss an abundant dose of Pecorino Romano, then diced salami, mortadella, ham, Parmiggiano Reggiano and Caciocavallo or other savoury cheeses. The basic dough is made of flour, eggs, lard, pork ciccioli, yeast and water, and then leave to rise for hours. Once rose, it is shaped as a ring, placing the eggs with their shell in the surface, locking them with a cross made of dough. The perfect final touch is an abundant grinder of pepper to enhance the strong taste of this rich dish.
The secrets of a real Neapolitan Casatiello
If you want to try to prepare a perfect Casatiello remember that the preparation requires time and patience; the slow rising, obtained with the mother dough, is fundamental to avoid the brick effect of a ring-cake too solid. Another secret is the filling: it has to be abundant! The real Casatiello doesn’t lack of greed: cheeses, ciccioli and salami have to be abundant and spread homogenously inside the dough. A particular care for the eggs: it is necessary to clean them deeply because of they are in close contact with the dough and if you place it uncooked, the shell has to be perfectly intact to avoid breaks during the cooking.
If the preparation seems too difficult for you, the only thing to do is to visit Naples during the Easter days to enjoy this delicacy baked off by the expert bakers of the city.