From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Easter pizza (in some areas also called crescia di Pasqua or Easter cake or cheesecake or crescia brusca) is a savory leavened bread typical of many areas of central Italy made of flour, eggs, pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese, traditionally served for breakfast on Easter morning, or as an appetizer during Easter lunch, accompanied by blessed hard-boiled eggs, ciauscolo and red wine or, again, served in the picnic of Easter Monday.
From the typical panettone shape, the cheese Easter pizza is a typical product of Marche and Umbria (where it has obtained the recognition P.A.T. or traditional food product). There is also a sweet version.
This product’s peculiarity is its shape, given by the particular mold in which it is leavened and then baked in the oven: originally in earthenware, today in aluminum; it has a flared shape.
Easter pizza originated in medieval times by the nuns of the monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena of Serra de’ Conti in Ancona. The name crescia (by which it is known in the whole Marche region) refers to the dough’s remarkable “growth,” that is, the leavening process, during baking in the oven.
The most ancient information about the preparation of crescia di Pasqua is found in a recipe book written by the nuns and dated back to 1848, titled Memorie delle cresce di Pasqua fatte nel 1848 and, later on, in an anonymous recipe book of 1864 titled Il Cuoco delle Marche.
The recipe over the centuries
Ancient cookbooks dating back to the 1800s contain the following recipe: “for 3 grows, and one for the Father Confessor, we need 16 pounds of flour, one half of milk, 40 eggs, 3 ounces of salt, pepper, one and a half ounces of fat, 3 pounds of dry cheese and 8 pounds of fresh cheese, including the eyes, 2 sheets of oil, and half a Paolo of good saffron, and this is enough for 24 people and the Father Confessor”. The 40 eggs included in this recipe were meant to commemorate the 40 days of Lent.
A recipe reported in the Memorie delle cresce di Pasqua made in 1848, instead, indicates: “flour 50 pounds, grated old cheese 10 pounds, fresh cheese as judged, milk 3 jugs and a half, oil 4 pounds and a half, as many eggs as needed, salt 1 pound and 3 ounces, pepper 3 ounces”.
Nowadays, the main ingredients are flour, eggs, grated pecorino cheese, grated Parmesan cheese (or grana padano), pecorino romano cheese in pieces, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, natural yeast, and milk. Some recipes also include other ingredients, such as saffron, or their substitution with similar ingredients, such as lard or butter instead of oil and Emmental cheese in pieces instead of pecorino cheese.
The dough must be kneaded for a long time to allow the glutinous mesh formation and promote leavening. The dough is then divided and put into special molds that, covered and kept in a humid place, are subject to a long process of leavening and then cooked, always according to tradition, in a wood-burning oven (in ancient times, they were brought to the baker to cook).
The sweet variant of Easter pizza
In Umbria and Marche’s areas, there is also a sweet variant where, in addition to the presence of sugar, with or without candied fruit, the sweet pizza also has a fiocca or a meringue glaze and beads of sugar.
Regional Recipe from Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise