Breakfast in Italy is usually a very sweet affair with cornetti, pastries, biscuits and cakes generally consumed with the morning caffè.
However, there is one day of the year where those with less of a sweet tooth get to indulge. Easter Sunday brunch is an altogether more savoury occasion with Romans laying out a delectable spread of hard-boiled eggs (often painted brightly beforehand), salami, cheese and, in some cases, coratella (pan-fried lamb interiors), all accompanied with the classic pizza al formaggio.
Less of a pizza, more of a cheesy bread, pizza al formaggio is a common Easter treat in central Italy and is traditionally eaten with corallina, an Umbrian pork salami studded distinctively with cubes of fat and lightly flavoured with garlic.
Although pizza al formaggio is on sale at Easter in almost every bakery or deli in the city, in my opinion it should be eaten throughout the year so I asked my mother-in-law (who is famous for her version) to share her recipe so I can, controversially, also make it for other occasions. The method and ingredients are simple but it does need time to allow the dough to prove so don’t attempt to make it in rush. Your patience will be rewarded when the house is filled with an amazing aroma and you eat it at its best: warm, fresh out of the oven and topped with a thick slice of salami.
250g 00 flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 x 7g sachet of baker’s yeast
150 g Pecorino Romano, finely grated
120ml extra virgin olive oil
150g Gruyère or Emmenthal cheese
Pinch of salt
Sift the flour into a large bowl and mix together with the sugar, yeast and grated Pecorino. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl along with the milk, oil and a pinch of salt.Stir together then use your hands to bring the mixture into a dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour.
Place back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours until it has doubled in size. Once the dough has risen cut the Gruyère or Emmenthal into small 1cm cubes, add to the dough then knead everything together again to distribute the cheese evenly.
Lightly grease a deep sided tin or baking dish (either rectangular or circular) ensuring it is large enough to leave about 3-4cm around the edge at the top to allow for the bread to rise. Place the dough into the tin, cover with a cloth and leave to prove for another 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200° and cook for 15-20 minutes until the surface is golden and the dough pings back into shape when you press down. Leave to cool, then turn out, cut into pieces and serve with corallina salami.
Kate Zagorski has lived in Italy since 2000. Married to a food-obsessed Roman chef, she leads food tours and also works as a freelance food and travel writer.