Crescia, Easter bread

I already have the opportunity to talk about Giacomo Leopardi, the great Italian poet. I love his poems, but also his romantic, short life. If you get curious about his life, there is an award winning film, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/sep/01/il-giovane-favoloso-review-giacomo-leopardi-venice-film-festival, that I strongly suggest you to watch.

Giacomo didn’t want to live in his native Recanati, and moved in different cities in Italy, but he missed his home town.  On the 17th  March, 1826, he wrote to his sister Paolina:

Salutami il curato e don Vincenzo, e dà loro a mio nome la buona Pasqua, che io passerò senza uovi tosti, senza crescia, senza un segno di solennità”. (Give my regards to the pastor and don Vincenzo, wish them Happy Easter for me.  A Easter that I will spend without uovi tosti, without crescia, and any celebration at all).

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From this excerpt it is clear that Giacomo couldn’t cook, otherwise he could have done what I did, ask his granma her recipe (yes, I have a grandmother alive and yes, she is 99 at the moment and finally yes, she can still share recipes– all thanks to the Mediterranean diet, I suppose).

So I prepared a big Crescia and I shared with friends coming from that area of Italy.

What can I say, I am a poetic, homesick, Italian expat 😂

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INGREDIENTS

  • 500 gr. flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 gr. Grated pecorino romano (it a sheep cheese, usually can be found in big supermarket)
  • 150 gr. grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
  • 10 gr. Dehydrated yeast
  • 100 gr. Gruyere cheese (diced)
  • 250 gr. milk
  • 50 gr. of lard (I used butter, as lard is not easy available here)
  • 50 gr. of olive oil
  • salt

Directions

  1. Oil one large soufflé mould, and using a strip of parchment paper, line the top of the dish adding an additional 5 cm. of height.
  2. Add the yeast to the warm milk in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix, and let sit until bubbly.
  3. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the olive oil, the butter, salt, and grated cheese.
  4. Add it to the yeast mixture and stir it with the dough hook, then add the flour, little by little. Stir it until you get a very smooth dough (it may take 20- 40 minutes at medium speed).
  5. Let the dough sit until doubled,
  6. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand, folding in the diced cheese as you work the dough.
  7. Place the dough in the mould and let it sit until more than doubled (my grandmother suggests that it is read when, gently touched, the dough trembles like jelly)
  8. Bake it at 180’ C. for about 45 minutes (I used the bread program in my oven – with 100% humidity for the first 5 minutes and then decrease at about 30% humidity).
  9. Remove the cake from the mould and let it cool completely, serve it as a snack or at breakfast with cured meat and boiled eggs.

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Maritozzi (Poetic Buns)

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 I want to celebrate Giacomo Leopardi, the great poet, with those exquisite buns. Actually Roma claims the ownership of those buns, but they are well known in all central Italy and I am sure that Leopardi enjoyed them in his Recanati.

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INGREDIENTS:

10 gr. of active dry yeast

450 gr. of strong flour

200 gr. of full-fat milk

100 gr. spoonful of sugar

125 gr. of seed oil (I used hazelnut oil)

1 Tsp of olive oil

30 gr of honey

1 egg

1 lemon’s grated zest

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS

Prepare the sponge:

  1. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 50 ml of warm milk in a bowl and stir to dissolve (if you have a kneading machine you will save a lot of work).
  2. Mix it with 50 gr of floor, one tablespoon of sugar and the honey. let it rise for about one hour.

Prepare the dough:

  1. Mix the remaining sugar, milk, the egg, the oils, the lemon’s rind and the vanilla to the sponge.
  2. Add the remaining flour and knead it until you have a smooth and elastic dough (I used Kitchen Aid, with dough hook, speed two for about 20 minutes).
  3. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise three hour (but it depends on room temperature, less if it is a hot summer day).
  4. Knock back the dough and make the buns (around 12).
  5. Let it rising for another ½ an hour, and glaze them with some olive oil.
  6. Bake it in a preheated oven at 400°F/200°C for 25 minutes until golden and light. If you have a steam oven like me, then just use the sweet rolls program.
  7. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  8. When cooled sprinkle with icing sugar, and if you want to feel yourself in Rome, open it and fill it with whipped cream.

 

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