For the sponge, heat the milk to lukewarm, about 100 to 105 degrees, in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the yeast. Stir in the flour and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to ferment 30 minutes or until double.
For the dough, whisk the eggs and yolk together and whisk in the sugar. Melt and cool the butter and whisk in. Stir in the salt, vanilla, and zests, then the flour. Use your hand to beat in the sponge, or transfer the dough to the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle and beat on the lowest speed until smooth, no more than 2 or 3 minutes. Beat in the raisins and candied fruit.
Place the dough in a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to ferment until double, about 1 hour. Remove the dough from the bowl and deflate by folding it over on itself several times on a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and shape each piece of dough into a dove, forming each one on a separate parchment-lined cookie sheet, according to the illustration; use raisins for the eyes. Cover loosely and allow to proof at room temperature until double, about 1 hour.
Bake the colombe at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Cool the colombe on racks. Keep them tightly wrapped in plastic at room temperature, or freeze for later use.
Dust with the confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Confectioners’ sugar for finishing
© 1990 Nick Malgieri. All rights reserved.