Colomba Di Pasqua

Happy Good Friday folks! Where there’s a food associated tradition, I am here for it, particularly when it hails from one of my favourite places (you know, apart from Wales), Italy. Let me introduce you to Colomba Di Pasqua, or ‘Easter dove’.

Colomba Di Pasqua

A traditional Easter treat all across Italy, this seasonal treat is the equivalent of panettone or pandoro at Christmas time, an enriched, sweetened, yeasted bread, flavoured with citrus except the colomba di pasqua is made in the shape of a flying dove. Traditionally it is made on Good Friday, ready to be eaten over the Easter period.

Colomba Di Pasqua

The actual origins of colomba are uncertain, there are many stories surrounding it, but is was Milanese baker Angelo Motta who commercialised the colomba as an Easter version of their Christmas speciality, panettone. Whatever it’s origins, this Easter dove is a sweet sign of spring & is delicious toasted & topped with a little mascarpone & a drizzle of honey.

Colomba Di Pasqua

COLOMBA DI PASQUA
(makes one 450g colomba)

Ingredients:

Stage 1 (biga/pre-dough):

  • 50g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 7g dried fast acting yeast
  • 40ml lukewarm water

Stage 2 (rise):

  • 200g strong white bread flour
  • 3g fast action dried yeast
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 55ml lukewarm water
  • 50g butter, softened & cubed

Stage (prove/final dough):

  • 200g strong white bread flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 75g butter, softened & cubed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 80g mixed peel

For the topping:

  • 1 egg white
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 15g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tbsp amaretto
  • 2 tbsp pearl sugar
  • Small handful of whole almonds

Method:

Stage 1 (biga/pre-dough):

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast & caster sugar
  • Add the water to the bowl & mix everything together until well combined & a soft dough forms
  • Cover the top of the bowl with a tea towel & leave to rise for about an hour to an hour & a half, until it has doubled in size

Stage 2:

  • Once your dough has risen, add the next round of flour, sugar, salt, water & egg to the bowl & mix to combine
  • Taking one cube of the butter at a time, work this into the dough (this is easier if using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook) until all of the butter has been incorporated & the dough is smooth with a light shine
  • Cover the dough with a tea towel & leave to rise for one hour to one & a half hours, until doubled in size

Stage (final dough):

  • Once risen, knock the dough back with your hands to release any air bubbles
  • Add the last lot of flour, egg & zest to the bowl & mix to combine
  • Add the last of the butter to the bowl, one cube at a time, working into the dough until all of the butter has been incorporated & the dough is smooth, elastic & shiny
  • Add the mixed peel & knead through until evenly distributed
  • Next, divide the dough into one large & two smaller pieces
  • If using a colomba mould, shape the smaller pieces into balls & shape the larger piece of dough into a sausage shape & place inside the mould (alternatively, you can bake in a pandoro mould)
  • Cover the dough & leave to prove for 3-4 hours until well risen (about 2/3 of the way up the mould)

Topping & baking:

  • Once the colomba has risen, mix up the topping
  • Add the egg white, granulated sugar, ground almonds & amaretto to a small bowl or jug & whisk to combine
  • Brush the topping all over the risen dough
  • Finally, add the whole almond on top & sprinkle over the pearl sugar
  • Bake the colomba at 170C for 30 to 40 minutes until golden on top & a skewer inserted into the bread comes out cleanly without any crumbs or dough

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