Colomba Pasquale

Easter Dove

The Easter dove, a symbol of the Resurrection, is a traditional pastry throughout Italy. Made from a yeast dough, the colomba is easy to prepare and simple to shape. It is usually encrusted with coarse sugar granules, but this version leaves the surface plain, to be lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar after baking. For an alternate presentation, divide the dough in half and shape into 2 round loaves, baking each on a separate parchment-lined sheet.

This recipe is based on one made by my friend Anna Teresa Callen, a great teacher of Italian cooking and baking.

Ingredients

    Sponge

  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast or ounce compressed yeast
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

    Dough

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dark or golden raisins
  • ½ cup mixed candied fruit

Method

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

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