colomba di pasqua 

Happy Easter! I wanted to create something festive and in keeping with the season. Although this usually contains dried fruit like golden raisins or candied peel and is often baked in a paper liner that’s shaped like a dove, I didn’t have any of those things. I did have some Marcona almonds, which I strongly recommend. They seem crunchier than regular almonds and contrast nicely with the softness and tenderness of the dough.

The powdered pistachio was simply an afterthought and because I used it in past blog posts and didn’t want to let it go to waste. I figured that since many variations of this recipe call for ground almonds in the dough, it was okay to substitute pistachios and use it as a topping. I also chose to top it with the pistachio after baking instead of before baking, to help preserve the color of the pistachios.

Other recipes sometimes use pearl sugar to top, which looks like the salt used in pretzels. I’ve used this before in other things, but this time I didn’t have any and didn’t want to go out to the fancy grocery store that I know sells this, plus I already had some demerara sugar, so I used that instead. The recipe I used as a guide is from a “Cooking with Simona” video on YouTube and didn’t require an overnight rise in the refrigerator and also seemed to show using less flour than they mentioned, making the final product look more like cake in the YouTube video. Also, the reason why my recipe written out looks the way it does is because I followed the way the ingredients were added incrementally over time as in the video. I hope it’s easy to understand.

Being that I didn’t have any mold to help keep it’s shape, I decided to add the amount of flour that they mentioned at the end of the video, which made mine more like a formable bread dough that held its shape very well as you can see. I did think of buying a paper mold online, but not only would that take time to be sent in the mail, but I would only be able to buy the paper molds in bulk! I actually made a paper mold out of a grocery bag, but chickened out in using it because I realized that grocery bags are not made of baking-grade material, plus I read that sometimes recycled paper bags may contain metals!

The next time I make this, I’ll make the horizontal piece of dough, which represents that body, a little thinner than the dough placed over it, which represents the wings. Overall, it turned out really well. The bread is soft and buttery and brioche-like, and the long overnight in the refrigerate I think helped with the flavor.

colomba di pasqua 

ingredients

3 Tablespoons whole milk, lukewarm

2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup water, lukewarm

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs, 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white for brushing later)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, sliced, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

zest of one lemon and one orange (I subbed two tangerines because I didn’t have an orange)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon orange blossom water

1 reserved egg white plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 cup marcona almonds

2 Tablespoons demerara sugar

1-2 Tablespoons melted butter, optional

Powdered pistachio, optional

method

Place the milk in a large bowl with the sugar and active dry yeast and stir. After about 10 minutes, add the flour. Stir until all flour is moistened. Cover top of bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup flour and 2/3 cup water to the bowl and stir again until all flour is moistened. Cover top of bowl and let sit for 40 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup flour, 4 teaspoons sugar, and 1 Tablespoon melted butter and cover top of bowl again and let sit for 1 hour.

After one hour, add 1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, and 1/2 cup unsalted butter that has been sliced into tablespoon-sized slices. Also add the salt, zest, vanilla, almond extract and orange blossom water. Stir again until dough starts to form. Form the dough into a rough ball and remove it from bowl in order to grease the bowl with some vegetable oil, then place the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover the top of the bowl and place in a refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, transfer dough to a work surface and shape into two logs, roughly the same length, but with one slightly thicker than the other.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat. Lay the smaller of the two logs of dough in the center parallel to the longer sides of the baking sheet. Lay the other log over the first log and press down so that it is like a cross. Try to form both pieces to look like a dove with this larger piece of dough being the wings. Don’t stress about how much it resembles a dove, it’s just meant to be more symbolic than realistic.

Cover the entire dough with plastic. If you worried about it sticking to the plastic, grease the side of the plastic that touches the dough. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour or so to get dough warmer and increased in size.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg with the sugar and brush the entire surface of the dove with this glaze mixture. Place marcona almonds spaced randomly all over the top of the dove. Sprinkle liberally with demerara sugar as well.

Bake for roughly 20 minutes at 350 degrees F., then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes. Check internal temperature. It should be about 190-200 degrees F. If it’s not that temperature it may need 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter then sprinkle the powdered pistachio, if using. Let cool at least an hour before slicing and serving.

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