Easter is usually know for chocolate, but in an Italian household you knew something else was in store – Easter Bread (casatiello). All of the kids in our neighborhood enjoyed this treat and looked forward to it just as much as we did. Everyone knew when the casatiello was baking in the oven because the aroma was simply amazing.
All these years later, everyone still smiles when they hear me say that I’m having a piece of casatiello with my coffee. We really lucky because when our mom became a nonna, she was only too happy to bake it more often for her grandchildren.
The recipe below makes three casatiello and trust me on this, you’ll want three of them. The good news is that they can also be frozen… but I will guarantee you won’t have to!
So, enjoy your Easter and have fun baking some casatiello =)
2 bags of yeast (fast acting) dissolved in 2 cups of warm (not hot) water
¾ lb. Crisco (1 and a half sticks of Crisco)
16 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 Lemon rind (orange rind also tastes great!)
In a 30 qt mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar well using a hand mixer on low.
Once blended, add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl, EXCEPT the flour.
Add 4 cups of the flour and blend on a low speed to combine.
Add the next 4 cups of flour and blend on low speed to combine.
Add the next 4 cups of flour and blend until the dough starts to become difficult to blend.
At this point, pour the batter out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface.
Add the last 4 cups of flour and lightly knead the dough until it is just lightly sticky and can be rolled.
Using a large knife, divide the dough into 9 even sized pieces of dough and roll the first three piece of dough to 1½" thickness and approximately 12-15" long. You may have to lightly dust them with flour in order to roll them.
Braid the dough and place each braid into a round 10" greased Angel Food pan.
Repeat this step two more times with the remaining 6 pieces of dough.
Cover each pan with dish cloths and put them in a warm place with a cover on them for approximately 3 hours to let them rise.
When you see they have risen, preheat the oven 325 degrees and bake them until they are golden brown (approximately 45 minutes and up to 1 hour).
If they are browning too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil for the remainder of the cooking time.