Crescia – The Easter Bread from Le Marche

074My Family came to Canada in 1913 from the town of Pesaro in the Province of Le Marche, Italy.  Over the years, traditions were lost or no longer practiced as my ancestors blended more into the Canadian fabric.  But,  Crescia has always survive the test of time and it has now been alive and well for 4 generations in our Canadian family.  I’m sure it’s not the same as the one my great-grandmother (Bisnonna Laura) made, but I hope it’s a close resemblance.

Crescia is a vastly different bread, depending on the region of its origins.  It can be as thin as focaccia or as high as the crescia that originated in Pesaro. The later is the one that my Family has made for generations, though it was denser and did not rise as high as the one that I make. But, it is similar in its signature ingredients of eggs, pepper and cheese.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Easter breads are so laden with eggs. As you backyard chicken owners know, heritage breed hens take a break from laying eggs during the Winter and resume their production in the Spring which happens to coincide with Easter.   As well, eggs, cheese, meat and olive oil were historically omitted from the diet in Italy during the period of Lent so everyone must have been “chompin’ at the bit” to return to these foods after those 40 bland days!

Ingredients:

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1 3/4 Cup Warm Water

1 Tablespoon  Active Dry Yeast

1 Teaspoon Sugar

6 Large Eggs (Thank you ladies!)

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Coarse Black Pepper (Decrease to your palate)

1 Tablespoon Salt

2 Cups Grated Romano Cheese (Parmesan or Pecorino substitute)

8 Cups All Purpose Flour

Directions:

Add the yeast and sugar to warm water and mix.  Let it sit for 5 minutes until bubbly.

In another bowl, beat the 6 eggs and add olive oil, salt, pepper and grated cheese.

Add the yeast mixture to the egg mixture and gently stir until it is all combined.

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Add half of the flour mixture and stir until it is thoroughly combined.  Continue adding the flour, about 1  cup at a time, until completely mixed.  I find that by the addition of the 4th cup of flour, the mixture must be mixed by hand.

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Once the dough is completely mixed, take it out of the bowl and begin kneading on a floured surface.  If the dough is too sticky, just add a bit of flour to the countertop until it no longer sticks.  Continue kneading for 10 minutes.

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At this point, the dough should be smooth and have an “elastic” feel.  Wash out your mixing bowl, dry, and lightly coat the bottom and sides of the bowl with some olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over a few times in order to coat the dough.  Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel.   This will prevent the top of the dough from drying out.

030

Now it’s time to let the dough rise in a warm place.  I set a table up near my wood stove and leave it there for around 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the dough as doubled in size.  In order to obtain a fairly even heat, I turn the bowl a 1/4 turn every 15 minutes or so.  You can use your oven or bread proofer if you have one.  I simply use the wood stove because I generally have it on during the weekends and it creates a nice heat for the dough, providing that you don’t have it too close (80-90 F is a good target).

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Once the dough has doubled  in size, it is time to “punch” it down and knead for a second time.  The dough should have a spongy feel and easily fold into itself when kneaded.  Continue kneading for 5 minutes.

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Once the dough has been kneaded, place it in a greased pan.  Make sure to coat the entire interior of the pan.  I use a panettone pan because it is deep and this bread is going to rise really high!

Once again, it is down to the wood stove for a second rise.  Make sure to cover the pan with a damp tea towel so that the top of the dough does not dry out.  Continue the second rise for around 1 – 1 1/2hrs or until it has doubled in size again.

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Pre-heat oven to 375 F, lightly oil the top of the bread with olive oil and place in the oven for 50-60 minutes.  Once done, the top should be golden brown.

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Remove from the oven and let it rest in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully take the crescia out of the pan and let it cool on the rack.

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Buona Pasqua to all!  Bisnonna…I hope I made you proud!

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Feel free to drop me a line and let me know how you made out in making your Crescia!

76 thoughts on “Crescia – The Easter Bread from Le Marche

  1. Where do I find that pan, does it have a name?
    My family made this bread for generations but no one had these great directions , and I always had trouble trying to get it . You have really helped !
    Joella dpugherty

    • Hi Joella,
      I use a panettone pan I purchased from a baking supply store, but you can use any type of deep pan. In fact, some members of my family have even used large cooking pots that have metal handles. I hope you make this great traditional bread!
      Buona Pasqua!
      CB

  2. This sounds like the best bread ever. Black pepper and Romano cheese are two of my favorite things! Now to find a pannettone pan…

  3. Brings back wonderful memories! My Father’s family is from Barchi and Pesaro also and Noni made this when I was a child. My dad took over and made it also. I tried a few times but it never came out the same as theirs. Will try your recipe this week for Easter. Thank you!

    Lynda Moretti Regina

      • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
        This turned out beautifully using your directions.
        I used a tall aluminum pot with metal handles as suggested if you don’t have a panettone pan and the bread rose to a whooping 5 inches by 10 inches!
        Very moist, done perfectly. Will be making this again soon! Wish my father was still with us so he could have seen and tasted it. Grazie mille!

        • Hi Lynda,
          I never doubted it for a second! Congratulations.:)
          To be able to “help” is one of the most rewarding aspects of “blogging”. Really glad to have helped.
          Your Dad would be proud!
          Regards,
          CB

      • So excited to have found your wonderful site … my family makes this bread too (also uses the nutmeg) – but, always had it for BOTH Easter & Christmas …(along with Panetonne … AND my Nonna always added swiss cheese – this was added at the last rise slits were cut into the dough and the swiss cheese (cut into long strips) were “punched” down into the dough … I have done this both ways, vertical & horizontal – depends on the pan I’m using … the result is that once “cooled” and sliced, you’ll be happy to find “veins” of the melted but, re-formed swiss cheese in each marvelous slice! I am sooo happy to have found you and am so excited to try your other kitchen wonders and to read your blog !

  4. Hi Rick, I found your blog today while doing a search for crescia. I just made one from The King Arthur Flour website but was intrigued by your recipe. Their recipe had only three eggs but your explanation makes a lot of sence. I’m also intrigued by raising chickens in Toronto (coincidentally, I’m also in Toronto, in Bloor West Village). I will be looking back on your experiences with egg laying chickens.
    I hope you check out my blog and in particular a commenter called Chgo John (from the Bartolini kitchens) who is also Italian (living in Chicago); he documents his family recipes and tells anecdotes of growing up in a two-flat in Detroit. He is indeed as lovely as his writing suggests, my husband and I met him last summer while visiting friends in Yorkville, Illinois. Now I’m off to explore your blog.

    • HI Eva,
      Thanks for your comments. I promise to spend some time roaming around your blog. Hope you give the chickens a go! Funny that you mention “Chgo”. I came across his blog a few years back and, like many things, got distracted and never re-visited. Thanks for the reminder.
      Buona Pasqua.
      CB

  5. That’s a super-sexy bread, I’m going to have to try it. I LOVE pepper and homemade bread- what’s not to love here? I suspect it’s acceptable to bake in regular bread pans, no? How many loaves do you think it would make?
    Thanks for sharing at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick®

    • Hi Karen,
      My extended family likes to eat crescia on Easter morning with a cup of coffee. It has also been served as a snack with some olives and cured meats. I like to toast it and serve it with two sunny side eggs on top!
      I hope you give it a try.
      Regards,
      CB

  6. I was reading a book set in Italy and they were talking about different breads. Crescia came into my mind so I searched for it and found your recipe. My paternal grandparents are from Pesaro. The pictures look exactly like my grandmother’s and aunt’s crescia. I can’t wait to make it. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. I am now making Cresia. We love it…My family always makes it for Easter. We are making it at this time for a special family gathering. My Nonna always made it the best. I continue to try…I think it was her wonderful hands…and heart. So happy to know others make it also. Thank you.

  8. This is the closest I’ve seen to my Nonnie’s recipe. Only difference is she used a mix of Romano and Parmesan and then put small chunks of American Cheese. I haven’t had it in quite a few years and have been craving some. You have inspired me to bake some. Thank You and Buon Natale!!

  9. My sister Letizia makes wonderful crescia. Tradition and recipe passed down from daughter to daughter in our family. All my aunts made it. Gosh, I remember rating which ones I liked the most. Of course, it was my mum’s. My grandparents actually came from Pesaro as well. Our families may be related.
    Take care
    Jo-Anna DeGrandis D’Ermo

  10. I’m from Fano, a town right by Pesaro. I make a lot of crescia on Easter time! about 60 eggs and I make some more sweet too. It is delicious, we also have our hens. My mother recipe is: 10 eggs, 1 kg. 00 flour, 300 gr. butter, 300 gr. grana and pecorino cheese, 250 gr. fresh brewer’s yeast , warm milk, oil, salt and.pepper. While cooking the smell goes all over ……Thank you to keep this marchigian tradition.
    Patrizia

    • My grandparents were from Fano (Enrico and Fanny Silvestriini) and the aunts all made crescia. We usually made three loaves and gave some away. We add some Jarlsberg and I like it rather peppery. My aunt always spread melted butter on the top after it came out of the oven. Thanks for sharing your recipe! Happy Easter!

  11. Can this be made a few days ahead of time. Our recipe is more dry whicle many that I have looked at online are more moist appearing. This recipe came from a northern italian relative and has always been made on the dry side. We also add boubon to the bread.
    Thanks

    • Hi Lilly,
      I always make my crescia a few days before Easter. I keep it covered with a clean tea towel until it is sliced on Easter. That way the outside of the bread doesn’t dry out and the inside remains soft.
      Best of success.
      CB

  12. Last year and the year before I went to Italy in my home town of Pergola the province is now called (Pesaro-Urbino) my niece makes the crescia not only for Easter but several times during the year She has 3 special pans like yours and makes 3 at a time and she gives 2 away to family and friends. The last time she gave me 2 to take back with me to
    U.S. One of them I cut into 4 parts wrapped in freezer paper then a ziplock and I freeze It was still very good. A Pergola they also sell it in the supermarket and you can buy it by the piece I tried but is not the same as when you make it yourself. Buona Pasqua.

  13. Glad I found this! My Mother in law makes this every Easter. The pans with the rising dough sitting on the radiators with towels.. A great tradition. She put chunks of Munster cheese in before baking. It is a nice tradition that I will carry. This is a nice recipe since MIL does not measure anything..

  14. Hello CB,
    I just made my first Crescia, it’s beautiful! I divided the dough in 2 and put it in paper Panettone pans that I bought at the local baker’s supply, the height is perfect, and they look incredible. The warmth and aroma were just what I needed on this rainy Good Friday.
    Thanks for sharing your tradition, it’s bound to be a tradition in my family from this year forward.
    Buona Pasqua to you and yours,
    Tony.

  15. My husband and I made your crescia recipe for Easter and it was wonderful! Perfect amounts of pepper and cheese! We are making loaves again today, since it is so cold out here again! Thank you! My husband came from Italy when he was 9, and my mil always made this bread for Easter!

  16. Hi, My family is from Fano in Marche. My great aunt showed me how to make her Crescia but she doesn’t measure anything,either and laughed at me for trying to measure the flour after she had just poured out a “measured” amount on the mixing board. She uses ten eggs but I don’t remember how much flour we ended up adding. she knew what the consistency needed to be and just added eggs or four or warm water (I think) until the consistency was right. She also had pieces of hard Pecorino or Parmesan in addition to the grated cheese. I am definitely going to make some tomorrow. Then I can bring it to her house when I visit…Grazie mille. Giselle

  17. Hi,
    I just found your blog and many memories of Le Marche. My grandparents were from Fano and I still have many cousins in Fano and Pesaro. Ii addition I recently spent a week in a small town outside of Fano, called Pozzuolo at an organic farm, originally owned by my family.
    Anyway, my grandmother would make crescia each year. But in one loaf she would pieces of rendered salt pork. We couldn’t eat that one until after Good Friday. I remember that hers was a bit on the dry side, but delicious, especially buttered or with a glass of wine.
    I still make the recipe every year.
    And if anyone knows the recipe for passtella (?). this is a cheese, egg and breadcrumb noodle from Marche.
    Joe

    • My grandparents came to the U.S. from Mondolfo in 1905. Our family recipe for passatelli is below. Delicious in home made chicken broth. Good luck.

      Passatelli Recipe

      1 cup grated parmigiana regiano
      1 cup unflavored bread crumbs
      3 tablespoons semolina flour
      2 eggs — (add extra egg if necessary to make dough come together)
      1 egg yolk
      1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
      1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (optional)
      2 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted
      Salt & pepper to taste

      Mix with food processor. Use big blade.

      Form, put on plate to dry

      Can be refrigerated after forming – bring to room temperature before cooking

      Simmer 1.5 minutes in broth. Serve immediately.

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe. My grandparents all 4 where from Italy. They came here well over 100 yrs ago. My grandmother added saffron ti=o this recipe. I have never saw any recipe that called for saffron, but I add it to ours because she did. She was from Fano, Italy

  19. We are making crescia now in California! My mom is from Frontone which is near Pergola others have mentioned they are from and about 40 km from Pesaro/Fano. She lost her recipe this year had loaned it but no one seems to have it or you know can help so we are going by her memory which at times can be slow to go… She does 30 eggs and has a collage of pans! She also uses wet yeast. Hoping it comes out well she always has one of the best Crescias! We love having it with prosciutto and pecorino! And hard boiled eggs too! I looked up a search of recipes and found you! I think we remembered well! Thank you for keeping this alive!!!

  20. Love this recipe. My grandparents came from Fano. We made Crescia every Holy Thursday. We put saffron in our receipe.

  21. The only place where I saw it for sale was Easter weekend at a store in Pesaro. Sorry about that. But I think the cheese was locatello. This is readily available. Try the recipe here . It’s excellent

  22. Hello,
    Great site! We’re making crescia 4 days in advance for my son’s culture day at school.
    Any tips on storage?
    Thank you,
    Glenn

  23. I just made this from my great grandmothers cookbook, still does not taste as I remember it. She had 2 yeast cubes and 350 , one cup romano, one cup parma . It did not get as brown, tastes good but still not as I remember. What I need to know is do I refrigerate this? It is awesome and brings back childhood memories.

    • Hi S.,
      It never stays long enough in our house to worry about “freshness”, though I do recall a relative freezing some after Easter for a treat later in the year.
      Sorry I can’t help further.
      Regards,
      CB

  24. Sorry for the delay. I made this bread at Easter Time. OMG – it was delicious. I used my large caphalon pan to make it in (the one used for make soups or boiling water for pasta) The dough came right to the top of the pan. My first attempt at this bread. I heard it was SOOOO difficult to me. Believe me it wasn’t, I followed City Boy Hens receipe and it was really easy.

  25. Thank you for your recipe for Crescia. Im going to make it this week. It seems as one ages and gets a bit more melancholy you crave the dishes and tastes of your youth. My Mother and Nonna always made this at Easter. The memories of these delicious goodies bring back such wonderful memories. Grazie . Buona Pasqua tuttti.

  26. I was born in Fano and have had crescia every Easter. When my mom passed away, I continued the tradition. Now my daughter helps me as I am aging and find the kneading a little difficult with arthritis. I am going to try your recipe this year. By the way, last year I used a bundt pan and cooked it a little less. It was unconventional but looked beautiful on the table. It was just as good.

  27. Love this rich in tradition Italian Easter Cheese bread. I add 3 more cups of the fresh grated pecorino cheese a hint of freshly grated nutmeg to a recipe that is so close this lovely family recipe you have shared. I make it every year and it goes quickly. We have to carry these wonderful traditions and pass them down to the next generation. Thank you for your lovely story and delicious recipe 😊

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