Crescia al Formaggio is a traditional Italian Easter bread that is savory and flavorful. This airy and light yeast bread is made with a combination of cheeses and eggs. Your whole kitchen will smell amazing as this Easter bread is baking in the oven.
Traditions… What do they mean to you?
For me, the holiday season always brings to mind childhood memories of family and friends coming over and gathering around a large table laden with food. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: I grew up seeing that food brings people together.
But I don’t think that traditions need to stagnant. They evolve and change as families do. When my mom and dad passed away, some of our old holiday traditions had to change, but some stayed the same, and many new ones were forged.
My mom’s rice ricotta Easter pie is a must! But I found this wonderful recipe for Ricotta Pie that my family loves.
As Easter approaches, I am reminded of another recipe for an Italian Easter bread that my friend Lori and her cousin Simi shared with me. The crescia in Crescia al Formaggio means “to grow,” and how appropriate is that for a new tradition?
Thank you, Lori and Simi, for this wonderful recipe. <3
Today, I’ll be sharing this savory Easter recipe with all of you.
The whole process starts with yeast – this is yeast bread, after all.
So, the first thing we need to do is proof of some yeast:
- in a small saucepan, on low heat, heat the milk and water until lukewarm (about 110°-115° F);
- transfer to a small bowl;
- stir in the sugar;
- stir in the yeast
- set aside for about 10 minutes for the yeast to proof.
In the meanwhile, we will grate some of the cheeses.
This savory Easter bread will call for three types of cheeses:
- Pecorino Romano and
- Swiss, Gruyère, or Emmenthal.
The first two kinds of cheese are grated, and the latter is cut in chunks. You will notice that I used the medium-sized holes of my box grater and not the small holes.
Once the two kinds of cheese have been grated, combine them thoroughly with the flour.
You now have two options:
Manually knead the Italian Easter bread
- mound the flour and cheese combination on a wooden board and make a well;
- place the eggs, butter (melted and cooled) and yeast in the well and whisk together with a fork;
- slowly pull in the dry mixture and begin the kneading process;
- continue kneading for about ten minutes;
- incorporate the chunks of cheese.
Use a stand mixer with dough attachment
- whisk together the eggs, butter, and yeast for a few minutes;
- switch to the dough hook and slowly incorporate the flour and cheese mixture;
- knead for about ten minutes;
- with a wooden spoon, incorporate the chunks of cheese.
Regardless of which method you use, the dough should be soft but not sticky at the end of the kneading process.
I must mention that the original recipe called for chunks of cheese to be scattered throughout the dough at the end of the kneading process. Unfortunately, I am living with a cheese monster (also known as my husband 🙂 ) and so I only had enough cheese to scatter a few pieces over the top.
Divide the dough in half and place it into your greased pans.
As I understand, tradition would dictate that this bread is placed in pans that resemble a Panettone Star Mould to achieve height -for the sake of convenience, I used a loaf pan.
I had a little fun with this and decided to braid one of my halves before placing it in my loaf pan.
Once the dough is in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow time to double in size. This can take up to 2 hours.
Bake in a 350°F oven for about 45-60 minutes with the oven grate set at the bottom. If the bread is taking on too much color (i.e., burnt tops), place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top or/and reduce the heat to 325°F as every oven is different; feel free to adjust the baking time.
A good indicator that the bread is done is hearing a hollow sound when the top is tapped.
I cannot even begin to explain the aroma coming from the kitchen as the loaves were baking… I couldn’t wait to taste it!
As soon as it was hot enough to handle, I removed it from the pan and sliced it. I probably should have waited, but the smell was just too good!
This is what the interior looks like…
This is definitely a cheese lover’s delight!
Easter food traditions we love
- Savory Easter Cheese Pie
- Italian Easter Sweet Bread
- Pizza Rustica Recipe
- Italian Easter Egg Taralli
- Sweet Ricotta Easter Pie
About a year ago, I had a wonderful conversation about the importance of traditions and family with Lori, a colleague of mine. Specifically, we discussed how the vast majority of the Italian community in Montreal maintained their families’ Easter traditions.
We also talked about how eggs and cheese and ricotta are used in so many traditional Easter dishes during the conversation.
A few days later, Lori provided me a typed copy of her families’ Crescia al Formaggio recipe.
Lori explained to me that she and her cousin Simi continue to make this bread every Easter to carry on their twin mothers’ tradition.
This recipe’s origin can be traced back to a region in Italy called “Le Marche.” This area is situated in central Italy and borders Tuscany, Umbria and the Adriatic Sea, among other areas.
Lori’s and Simi’s moms were from San Lorenzo in Campo; their dads were both from Pergola. Both of these towns are in the Provincia di Pesaro, a town that borders the small but beautiful country of San Marino.
I feel very privileged and extremely grateful to Lori and Simi for sharing their family recipe with me.
This Italian Easter Bread, aka Crescia al Formaggio, is the perfect bread to have at Easter as part of your appetizers or alongside your meal.
This is also the perfect recipe to start a new tradition… I know I will!
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this Crescia recipe, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
Crescia al Formaggio
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup milk
- 24 grams yeast 6¾ teaspoons (3 packages) traditional yeast
- 3 teaspoons sugar granulated
- 600 grams flour all-purpose, sifted
- 150 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
- 150 grams Pecorino Romano grated
- pinches salt and pepper or to taste
- 6 eggs room temperature
- ½ cup butter melted and cooled to room temperaure
- 200 grams swiss cheese cut into 1-inch chunks; can also use Emmenthal or Gruyere
- Over low heat, combine the water and milk in a small saucepan and heat until lukewarm to the touch (approximately 110° F)
- Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the yeast and the sugar.
- Allow to proof for about 10 minutes or until frothy.
- Whisk together the flour and both kinds of cheeses. Add salt and pepper taste. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl (of a stand mixer) whisk eggs at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the yeast mixture and the room temperature butter and whisk for a few minutes.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the dry mixture (flour, cheeses, salt and pepper).
- Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and pulls away from the sides. Alternately, you can knead by hand.
- With a wooden spoon, incorporate the chunks of swiss cheese.
- Divide the dough in half and place it into your greased loaf pans.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow time to double in size. This can take up to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and set the oven grate at the bottom.
- Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until a hollow sound is heard when the top is tapped.
- Remove from oven when done and allow to cool before slicing.
So eager to try this bread. My daughter brought your site to my attention, and I’ve been a fan ever since!
How wonderful Dianne! Welcome!
Omg Maria, I was just browsing looking for another version of my grandma’s Ciambellone recipe and I came across your Creschia recipe. Our family’s version of Creschia di Pasqua is from my grandmother, who came from Mombarocccio in the Marche region, and uses much more ground pepper like a tablespoon. But all in all the recipe is very similar. We also started adding a little Gruyere cheese to the Parmesan and Romano cheeses. A slice is also really good toasted!
How wonderful Cynthia! Thanks so much for sharing!
Can’t wait to try this. My grandmother used to make a version of this but I remember it had course black pepper with the cheese. Thanks for sharing! Happy Easter 🙂
How wonderful Linda! I love all the recipe variations associated with Italian regional cuisine… family recipes are always the best ♥ I hope this bread helps bring back some wonderful memories. Happy Easter to you and your loved ones!
Can’t wait to try this recipe. Our Torta as my grandma called it was much more dense. This looks so light. Can’t wait for Easter.
I also love Easter. I hope your family likes this crescia recipe as much as mine does. Thanks so much for stopping by Donna, appreciate it!
Paula Barbarito Levitt
What a lovely history of this special variety of Easter Bread, which I had not been familiar with.
The beauty of regional Italian cooking and baking 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Paula, appreciate it ♥
Alida @My Little Italian Kitchen
I have never made Crescia and this is so tempting. It looks so soft and so delicious and Easter is on its way! I am planning to make lots of nice food for Easter. Thank you for the recipe!
My pleasure Alida! This is a wonderful cheesy yeast bread… hope you get a chance to try it. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
can you use almond flour instead ofAPF?
That’s a great question Ann -I have never tried. I did find a great article on baking with almond flour on this website. I would suggest cutting the recipe in half in order to try the recipe on a smaller scale. Would love to hear about the results if you do decide to give it a try. Appreciate your question 🙂
This looks so good!! And with the cheese….oh wow! I love making bread and I would love to try making different kinds. It’s interesting how something that seems very basic can have such variety! Thanks for sharing and I am pinning it! 😊
I also have a weak spot for bread… and this one is amazing… especially if you love cheese like me! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, appreciate it 🙂
It is sad to see traditions change (or disappear) over time, but it is important to remember that what we consider a “tradition” now has likely changed and evolved over time and was not always that way! We need different things at different times in our lives, and we should be willing to adapt to our circumstances while maintaining our heritage.
This bread looks great! I’ve posted a very similar one (from the region of Le Marche) on my website. I’ll have to give yours a try one day and see how they compare. 🙂
I totally agree Lisa!
This really is a popular Easter bread and I am very grateful to my friend for sharing her family recipe with me. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Denise from Urb'n'Spice
This reminds me so much of my favourite kind of brioche, Maria, and adding cheese to that elevates it to an epic level, in my opinion. I am looking forward to trying your bread. Thank you for sharing.
I have such a weak spot for all breads… especially brioche bread! Hope you get a chance to try it! Thanks so much for stopping by Denise ♥