Cross Piazza del Plebiscito with your eyes closed.

The purpose of this game is managing to go between the equestrian statues in the center of the square, sculpted by Antonio Canova and depicting Charles III of Bourbon and Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.

Rules of the game: close your eyes or wear a blindfold. Procedure: starting from the gate of Palazzo Reale, walk straight for about 170 meters. Do not be surprised if, on opening your eyes, you realize not only that you have not managed to cross the space between the two statues, but that you are somewhere else entirely.

According to legend, it is all Queen Margherita’s fault: she is said to have granted a pardon to the prisoners of the Kingdom who passed this test, however, a curse launched by the Queen herself prevented the competitors from being successful.
As a matter of fact, the particular conformation of the square, with its surface of not perfectly linear cobblestones, hinders walking in a straight line, making this a very difficult thing to do in Naples with kids, especially during the night.

Casatiello Napoletano. The King of Easter in Napoli.

There are two things that are synonymous with Easter in Napoli – Pastiera – the ricotta and wheat based pie that is like a cheesecake on steroids and its equally indulgent antithesis – the rustic and savoury Casatiello Napoletano. Think of them as the yin and the yang or the Adam and Eve of the Neapolitan Easter table.

A type of rustico, or a rustic bread, Casatiello is hardy, filling, and oh so satisfying. Something I would think of more as a comfort food for the cold, wet days of winter, here it is nevertheless a symbol of spring.  Made only for the Easter holiday, its brother Tòrtano however is made year round.

Two breads cut from the same dough, the only difference between them – hard-boiled eggs. Perhaps symbolic of creation, I can only guess the addition of eggs to Casatiello render it suitable only for the Easter holiday. Made in a round pan similar to an American bundt pan, the shape is said to symbolize the crown of thorns.

The recipe dates to at least the 1600s and they say, the Napoletani that is, that it is not Casatiello without sugna (or strutto in Italian) – pork fat/lard. Served as part of the antipasti on Easter day, it tastes even better the next day, Pasquetta – Easter Monday.

The first step in any good Casatiello? The ingredients.

Flour, lievito – fresh yeast sold in little cubes, water, salt, pepper, and most importantly, sugna for the dough. Hard boiled eggs and an assortment of salumi and cheese inside.

To make Casatiello with 1 kg flour we recommended “un mezzo chilo di misto,” – a 1/2 kg of assorted salumi and cheese. For our Casatiello we chopped up some ciccioli, capicollo, salame napoletano, and pancetta coppata. Pecorino cheese is typically used but this time we are using a Caciotta di Avellino.

Ingredients

For the dough
1 kg flour plus extra for rolling the dough.
300 ml Water.
1 cake (.6 oz) fresh yeast or one package or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast.
Warm water.
Salt and pepper.
About 4 tbsp of lard for the dough plus more for coating the dough.

For the filling
1/2 kg assorted salumi and cheese.
6 hard-boiled eggs.

Cooking Method

Pour flour onto a work surface.
Mix in salt and a very generous amount of pepper.
Add yeast (if you are using active dry yeast you will need to dissolve it in about  1/2 cup warm water first).
Add water a little bit at a time, working it in until a soft dough begins to form.
Add the lard and work it completely into the dough.
Continue working the dough, adding water as needed until the dough is just slightly damp and very elastic.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 2 hr or more.

The Casatiello dough after the first rise

Meanwhile chop the salumi and cheese
Boil and chop the eggs and add them to the salumi mixture

After the dough has risen one hour, flour the work surface and roll it out into a large rectangular form.

Spread the salumi mixture across the length of the dough starting near the bottom of the dough.  

Roll the dough up like a cigar, pinch the edges and coat them with lard.

Roll up the Casatiello

Bring the ends together to form a circular shape.

Grease the Casatiello pan with lard, work the dough into the pan and generously coat the top of the dough with lard.

Cover and let rise 3 hours.

Casatiello after the second rise

Bake at 180º C for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Buon Appetito!