The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Matthias893's picture

Casatiello Question

June 1, 2011 - 12:41pm -- Matthias893

So my friend just bought a new house and I thought I'd bake him some Casatiello.  I've made it a few times before and it's absolutely delicious.  I'm using the recipe from BBA and I usually shape it into a boule and bake it in a cake pan.  It comes out as this giant puffy dome which looks great.


Jo_Jo_'s picture

What's not to like about a bread with meat and cheese everywhere you bite? I think I would have preferred it with a leaner dough, less fat in particular. It wasn't nearly as rich as the Brioche from the BBA Challenge, but the crust was almost flaky like a pie crust. The texture was very tender, and the taste of extra sharp white cheddar and salami really made this a very good bread.


From Casatiello


Some of the cheese oozed from the sides of the bread as it cooked, and the oils from the salami that I forgot to saute seemed to flow out through the bottom of the loaf. I did not put any oil or shortening in my clay baker, figuring that it would do this. Really glad it didn't stick....

Here's the process from start to finish. First I made a sponge, which seemed really watery. More like what I use to activate yeast when I buy the wrong kind. My sponge didn't do more than a small amount of bubbling, probably because I totally forgot to scald and then cool the milk.

I used my baker's percentage worksheet, and Peter Reinhart's formula to make exactly the amount of dough that I wanted to fill my baker. It's been an interesting project using excel to create a worksheet that I can put ingredients into and see what percentages they are of the total (including a starter/preferment/biga/poolish), plus my daughter helped me create a section that works backwards from the percentages and gives me the amount in ounces and grams for each ingredient based on the amount of dough I want to make. I have tried to use quite a few different ones in the past, but they were always more complicated than they were worth (in my opinion). Here are the ingredients all measured out and ready to put into the mixer.

I put the flour etc into the mixer and mixed it for a few minutes, then allowed it to rest. I then put the dough hook on and started adding the butter last, which made the dough all paste itself to the bottom of my mixer. I fought with it for a few minutes, but decided that it needed to rest a little bit longer. Most of the butter was incorporated, but it really needed to be kneaded for a while longer.

I have a nice picture here of kneading the dough and it starting to form into a ball, but totally spaced on a picture of the dough cleaning the sides of my mixer bowl. It really was a nice dough to work with, so I am disappointed that I forgot the picture.

After I finished kneading the dough which took a full 10 minutes before it came together nicely, I then used my mixer to add the cheese and meat. The other time I made something similar to this I put the meat and cheese in during the shaping stage, so I thought I should try this way. I also figured that grating the cheese would just incorporate the cheese into the dough, and I wanted chunks of oozy cheese rather than a dough that tasted like cheese. My only regret was cutting the cheese into to small of chunks, I should have made them about twice the size of the salami. I formed it into a boule and placed it into a greased bowl.

Here's the dough 90 minutes later, ready to be shaped into a long loaf for my clay baker.

I really like this clay baker, but it has been a project learning how to bake bread in it. The bread I make in it though is really awesome. That's my new Bunn coffee maker in the background, which is replacing my Keurig coffee maker. I have had the Keurig since last February, and in November it started refusing to make coffee and wants to be descaled every 2 weeks or so. After pouring vinegar through it twice in the 3 weeks my husband was gone on a business trip I asked him to bring me home a bunn, because I think it makes excellent coffee. Keurig makes an excellent cup of coffee, but it sure didn't seem to make a reliable machine for me.

Shaped and ready to proof before baking. I allowed it to rise for 90 minutes, which seemed a long time to me, but it worked out fine.

I baked mine for about an hour and ten minutes, partly because of the clay baker not being preheated. For my leaner breads I bake a loaf that size at 425* for 30 minutes, plus another 15 uncovered for browning. Makes some nice bread.

From Casatiello


Not sure I would make this bread again, unless I cut the butter down in it. I really don't think it needed so much, especially with all the grease from the meat and cheese. I have to admit though, this was a really good bread. Happy Valentines Day!!!!

em120392's picture

Hey guys! Here's my post about Casatiello, an enriched bread with cheese and meat. I'm doing the BBA Challenge for a project in my high school. My brother and I share a blog (he's going to start writing soon) where we document our journey through the Bread Baker's Apprentice. Here's the link:


Casatiello, a Neapolitan Easter bread, is also known as Tortano in other parts of Italy. The word casatiello is derived from the Neapolitan word for "cheese." Casatiello is enriched bread, much like brioche, with the addition of cured meat and cheeses. Traditionally, Italians add salami and pecorino-romano and/or provolone cheeses.

Like many other breads, casatiello has religious significance. The rising dough represents the resurrection of Christ on Easter. The traditional circular shape represents Christ's crown, and the eggs on top signify His rebirth.

To incorporate the meat and cheese, Reinhart kneads in these additions. However, while researching other recipes, they call for the dough to be rolled out flat, sprinkled with meat and cheese, and rolled up like a sandwich loaf. The traditional casatiello is topped with raw eggs, covered with dough crosses. When baked, the eggs atop the casatiello are similar to hard-boiled eggs. Reinhart bakes his bread in tall mold, like a coffee can, lined with a paper bag. However, many traditional recipes call for the dough being shaped in ring and baked in a tube pan.

In comparison to many of Reinhart's recipes, this bread can be made in one day, rather than retarding overnight. However, he does use a sponge to add more flavor to his bread. I began by mixing flour and yeast, which I added warm milk to. I let this ferment for about an hour, until it collapsed when tapped the bowl.

Meanwhile, I shredded some provolone cheese, and diced some salami. I sautéed the salami for a few minutes, and it rendered some fat and became slightly crispy.

Next, I mixed flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid. Next, I added eggs and the sponge to the flour mixture, and mixed until it became a ball. After resting a few minutes, (known as autolyse), I added ¾ cup of room temperature butter in 4 additions. The dough was sticky and soft, and I kneaded it for about 5 minutes until it became slightly tacky and smooth.

I sprinkled the meat over the dough, and tried to knead it in the mixer. However, the salami just whizzed around the bowl, so I decided to knead by hand. After the meat was incorporated, I added the cheese, which mixed in much easier than the meat. I let the mixed dough rest for about an hour and a half, for the first rise.

Since I didn't have coffee tins, and I didn't want to stray from Reinhart's recipe, I chose to bake the casatiello in two loaf pans. I shaped it like I would sandwich bread- I flattened it into a rectangle and rolled it into a tight cylinder. Remembering my mishap while shaping the brioche, I made sure to seal these loaves extra tight. After being shaped, I let the dough rise for the final time for about 90 minutes.

The loaves baked in a 350 degree oven until they were golden brown, and the insides reached about 190 degrees. Unlike the brioche, they were not glazed, but the top was speckled with dark bits of cheese.

When I cut into the loaf, I could see the bits of melted cheese, which made this cool, web-like structure in the bread. Maybe because I'm not a fan of cured meats is the reason that I didn't really find this bread to my liking. Although I liked the rich and soft texture of the bread, I didn't like the bits of salami. I probably should have cubed the meat finer, so it was more evenly distributed. I made this bread with my mentor, Mr. Esteban, in mind. He does not like sweet breads and casatiello is the epitome of the savory kind he would enjoy.

Esposito, Mary Ann. "Neapolitan Stuffed Easter Bread/Neopolitan Casatiello." Ciao Italia. PBS, 2011. Web. 18 Jan 2011. <>.

Reinhart, Peter. The Bread Baker's Apprentice. 1st ed. . New York, New York: Ten Speed Press, 2001.129-132. Print.


flour-girl's picture

Casatiello = Italian for "delicious"

June 10, 2009 - 7:28am -- flour-girl

I'm part of the group baking our way through Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice."

I haven't been posting here about the other breads we've made so far (they've been great, to be sure). But I'm absolutely in love with the latest creation: Casatiello.

If you're not familiar with it, it's a rich dough studded with cured meat and cheese. And it's out-of-this-world.

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