Colomba di Pasqua

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Colomba di PasquaColomba di Pasqua: Colombapasquale or Colomba di Pasquais an Italian traditional Easter cake, the counterpart of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro.The dough for the Colomba di Pasqua is made in a similar manner to panettone, with flour, eggs, sugar, natural yeast and butter; unlike panettone, it usually contains candied peel and no raisins. The dough is then fashioned into a dove shape (colomba in Italian) and finally is topped with pearl sugar and almonds before being baked.

Note: Biga (Starter) should be prepared 12 hours earlier or the night before making Colomba di Pasqua.

Ingredients for Colomba di Pasqua

(Makes 1 Loaf):

For Biga (Starter):

  • 1/4tsp dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For Dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp orange oil
  • Zest of 1 large fresh orange
  • 100 gms lemon zest, candied
  • 100 gms orange zest, candied
  • 100 gms marzipan, grated

For Glaze:

  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 tbsp almond flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 5 to 6 tbsp pearl sugar

Method for Colomba di Pasqua:

For Biga (Starter):

  • Mix yeast with water to dissolve.
  • Mix in flour by hand.
  • Stir just until blended (no lumps).
  • Mixture will be very wet and sticky.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  • One cup of this mixture will be needed for the bread.

For Bread:

  • Combine the Biga with all of the dough ingredients except for fresh orange zest, candied orange zest, candies lemon zest and grated marzipan.
  • Knead the dough mixture for about 12 minutes at medium speed, stopping the mixer every 3 minutes to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • The dough should have become elastic and satiny.
  • The dough should be starting to leave the bottom and sides of the bowl, though it won’t form a smooth ball.
  • Knead the fresh orange zest, candied orange zest, candies lemon zest and grated marzipan into the dough.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
  • The dough should have become quite puffy.
  • Divide the dough in two pieces, with one slightly larger than the other.
  • Shape one piece of dough into a 10″ log, with one tapered end.
  • Shape the second piece of dough other into a 7″ log.
  • Place the longest dough log lengthwise on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking tray.
  • Use the edge of your hand to form a crease in the center.
  • Lay the shorter log crosswise across it, right at the crease.
  • Shape the shorter log into “wings” by pulling it into a crescent shape.
  • Cover the shaped loaf with a lightly greased plastic wrap.
  • Set the dough aside to rise until puffy, takes about 1 to 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Make the glaze by mixing the egg white, almond flour and sugar.
  • Gently paint this glaze all over the loaf; be generous.
  • Sprinkle with the sliced almonds, then the sugar pearls.
  • Bake the loaf for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven heat to 350°F.
  • Bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it for the final 10 minutes of baking.
  • The bread loaf will be golden brown when baked.
  • Remove the bread from the oven, and carefully slide it onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve in thin slices.
  • ServeColomba di Pasquaon Easter morning, or later in the day, as a sweet accompaniment to the Easter ham
  • Colomba di Pasqua can be enjoyed with a glass of wine; some prefer it toasted, then drizzled with heavy cream or honey, and served with coffee.

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