The dove, a symbol of peace, gives form to this traditional Italian sweet bread. Widely sold in Italy during Holy Week, Colomba di Pasqua is to Easter what Panettone is to Christmas.
The origin of this bread is unknown, however it is traditionally credited to the end of military conflicts in either the city of Pavia in 750 A.D., or the city of Milan in 1176.
Here is a traditional recipe for the Colomba di Pasqua, or Easter Dove Sweet Bread.
500 g / 17.6 oz all purpose flour
150 g / 5.3 oz sugar
14 g / 0.5 oz active dry yeast
150 g / 5.3 oz butter
1 cup milk
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
100 g / 3.5 oz candied orange peel
50 g / 1.75 oz coarse sugar
100 g / 3.5 oz almonds
Peel the almonds. They will be easier to peel after blanching them in boiling water.
Make a paste using half the flour, add the yeast after it dissolves in a quarter cup of warmed milk, make it into a round loaf shape, cover it with a dishcloth, and leave it to rise.
When it has doubled in size, mix the whole eggs, one egg yolk, the remaining flour, sugar, butter, a pinch of salt, candied orange peel, and the milk.
Leave it to rise again on a buttered dish, making the dough into the form of a dove; it may help if you use a dove template, cut from heavy paper into the proper shape.
Beat the remaining egg white, and brush the mixture onto the dough. Sprinkle with the almonds and the coarse sugar.
When the dough has doubled in size, cook in a hot oven (375°F) for a few minutes, then in a moderate oven (325°F) for about an hour or until golden.
Makes enough to fill 2 of the above Colomba Bake & Serve Pans.
You can fill and decorate with chocolate, a pastry cream, or mascarpone cream.
You'll need 250 g / 18.75 oz of sugar, 5 eggs separated into whites and yolks, and 500 g / 17.6 oz of mascarpone cheese.
Beat the egg whites until they form a firm peak.
Blend the sugar into the egg whites and whip until the sugar is fully dissolved. Then add this mixture to the mascarpone and beat until it becomes a smooth cream.
Then gently add the yolks and mix until well blended.