Crescia: An Easter bread

CresciaI must say I hate baking. It’s not really cooking, it’s a chemistry experiment. So follow this recipe to the letter and even with that, you odds of success are 50/50. But with that said, this is one of my most favorite breads to be eaten around Easter. It originates from the Italian region of Le Marché. Have a warmed slice for breakfast with a little butter.

Makes two loaves.

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (1 package of RED STAR yeast)
  • 1/4 cup of warm water (See note below)
  • 1/4 cup of warm milk (See note below)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, softened by leaving at room temperature or putting in the microwave for 20 seconds)
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound of Swiss cheese
  • Pastry brush or paper towels
  • 2 loaf pans
  • Cooling rack
  • Optional: Stand mixer

Note: For the warm water and milk in the ingredients list, place the liquid in a Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave the measuring cup and liquid for about 20 seconds. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. It should be in the 110 to 115 degrees F range. Don’t use it yet if it’s too hot or too cold. The yeast won’t “proof” or activate if the liquid is too hot or too cold.


  1. Choose a large bowl. If it is cold, find a place to warm it to slightly to above room temperature. Add the warm water and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Cover with a dish towel and let proof (activate) for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, the yeast should be foaming and smell very “yeasty”.  If it’s not, start again. Some how you killed or didn’t activate the yeast.
  2. Add the warm milk to the yeast mixture. Then whisk in the softened butter. Crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk into the mixture. Add the Parmesan cheese and pepper and whisk together.
  3. Add 6 1/2 cups of flour, one cup at a time, and mix with your hands until a soft ball of dough is formed, adding additional flour if necessary until the dough is no longer sticky. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes.
  4. Note: If using a stand mixer, add the ingredients to the stand mixer bowl in the same order and pace as indicated in steps #1 thru #3. Use a dough hook to mix and knead the doughCrescia
  5. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a large bowl. Grease the entire bowl with a pastry brush or a paper towel. Put the dough into the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth towel and place in a warm spot in your kitchen (about 80 degrees). Let rise for about 90 minutes until doubled in size. This is the tricky part. It must rise to about double the size.
  6. Lightly punch down the dough and separate into two pieces of dough. Please each piece in a loaf pan. Cut the Swiss cheese into 1 inch chunks. Push the chunks into the dough.
  7. Cover the dough in the loaf pans with a kitchen cloth and let rise again for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Bake the loaves for about 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool until you can handle the pans and then remove the loaves from the pans to a cooling rack.
  9. When cool, slice the bread and serve warm with a little butter.

Join the Conversation

  1. I’ll have to try this next year…

  2. George Pierfedeici says:

    I always loved my mother’s crescia, but there was never enough Swiss cheese in it for me !

  3. Tried this recipe and it was amazing!!!
    I had never had crescia before and I’ve been trying to replicate this special bread for my husband’s family. The other recipes I tried weren’t quite right but they said this one was it!
    I did 2 things differently, I didn’t have milk so I used all water. The dough came out a little dry so I kneaded in 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil to moisten it( after hearing complaints that it often came out dry when the grandmother ‘s made it). It came out moist with a nice hearty texture.
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. Joe Author says:

      Rachel: Thanks for your comments about this recipe. This is the way my Aunt Mary made it. When I visited my relatives in Italy last year, my cousin’s wife give me her special recipe which does have a lot of olive oil. I do like it better. Here’s that version.

      Again, thanks for your comment!! Joe

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