A must at Easter time in Naples, this festive bread is generously studded with the regions favorite flavours. Although made at home, Tortano can also be bought in bakeries and stalls and is usually eaten by the slice, or chunk, as I prefer! Using a basic bread formula, the fillings can be replaced as desired to create infinite satisfaction. Tortano is not far removed from other Neapoletan favorites Casatiello and Panino Napoletano.
1 Kilo 00 Flour
2 Cups Lard – Melted and cooled until tepid.
¾ Cup Milk
1 tbsp Salt
2 tsp Quick Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ cup fried Pancetta cubes
½ cup Cubed Salami
Cubes of Provolone / Parmesan
Generous amounts of freshly milled Black Pepper
Place your flour in a large bowl and add salt, yeast, sugar and pepper mixing lightly with hands. Make a well in the centre and add the milk then the lard. Mix with hand like a firm claw, adding ½ cup of grated parmesan a little at a time until dough is formed.
Turn out onto a floured board and kneed until the dough is elastic and smooth. Place back into bowl and cover, leaving to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
Turn onto board once dough has risen, stretching and flattening with hands to a 1.5 to 2cm thickness. Sprinkle over remaining parmesan cheese and the cubes of pancetta, salami and other cheeses.
A ‘Casatiello’ is decorated with boiled eggs, adding extra symbolism for the Easter festivity.
Roll into a cigar shape and lay into a greased round tin. If individual portions preferred, slice into mini loaves, 10 cm long. Cover again and let rise for a further 30 mins.
Brush with egg wash, then bake for about 40 minutes, until dough is cooked through and top is golden brown. If you’re not sure whether it is cooked through, turn out of tin and tap the bottom of the loaf – it should be hollow sounding.
The bread is better enjoyed once cooled. For a vegetarian alternative, replace lard with olive oil; alternative fillings could be pesto, olives, tapenade, sundried tomatoes, walnuts, or whatever takes your fancy!