Crescia Al Formaggio (Easter Cheese Bread)

READY IN: 3hrs 30mins
YIELD: 1 loaf




  • To make the dough in an electric mixer: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until the dough becomes shiny and satiny. Add the cheese and beat until blended. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and set it aside to rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough, turn it over, return it to the bowl, and allow it to rise for an additional hour, or until it's nearly doubled in size.
  • To make the dough in a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for manual or dough, and press Start. Check the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or water; it should be shiny and elastic. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.
  • To shape the dough: Oil or flour your hands. To make one large loaf, form the dough into a ball, and place it in a greased pandoro (star) or panettone pan, large souffle dish, or other round, deep pan; the pan should be about 6" to 7" wide and 3" to 4" deep. To make two medium loaves, divide the dough in half, shape it into two logs, and place it in two greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans. Cover the loaf or loaves lightly, and allow them to rise for 2 hours (or longer, depending on the warmth of your kitchen); the bread should have become noticeably puffy, though it may not have doubled in size.
  • To bake the bread: Put your oven rack in a lower position, just below the middle, and preheat the oven to 425°F Whisk the reserved egg white with the water and brush the top of the loaf/loaves. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, tent the bread lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F.
  • Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges, if necessary, and turn the loaf/loaves out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing. Yield: One large or two medium loaves.