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Italian Easter Dove Bread Recipe: Colomba Di Pasquale

Updated on February 17, 2013
Jerry's Dove, shaped by hand
Jerry's Dove, shaped by hand | Source
Jerry quotes baking instructor Lou Pappas           "May Your Bread Always Rise"
Jerry quotes baking instructor Lou Pappas "May Your Bread Always Rise" | Source

Recipe for Italian Easter Dove Bread

Many years ago, my Father, now "Papa Jerry" seen below, announced to the family that he was going to be serving Easter Dove Bread, as a special surprise for Easter that year. We all knew that he had taken up cooking and baking lately, since living alone, he enthusiastically decided to experiment with cooking. Taking local cooking classes and conjuring up gourmet meals that rivaled that finest Italian cuisine, we were all impressed. His culinary crafts marveled friends and family alike. The Easter Dove Bread is one of his finest accomplishments, and one of my fondest memories of Easter with my Dad, second only to his role as the Easter Bunny.

In Italy, bread is a part of a wide social context, and symbolic for life. While Italy offers many traditional Easter breads, the best known is Colomba Pasquale, Easter Dove Bread, golden with egg yolks and butter, this bread comes in all sizes from small baby birds to great family-size doves with two-feet wing spans. Often its tail and wings are embossed with an almond paste like this one, or sometimes it includes candied lemon and orange rinds. There are many versions of this recipe, and you may indeed find one easier than this one but I am focusing on a memory, you will no doubt revise as needed to create your own Easter nostalgia.

Buona Pasquale

Happy Easter


1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups unsifted all purpose flous

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

6 egg yolks

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp grated lemon peel

Almond Paste Topping:

1 egg white

granulated sugar

1/4 cup sliced almonds


Bread- This recipe makes two large doves. You can assemble your dove by hand as instructed below or you can use a dove-shaped mold.

Combine in mixing bowl: yeast, 1 cup flour, sugar and the salt. Heat milk and butter until about 125 degrees, pour over the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Mix in egg yolks, one at a time and vanilla and lemon peel. Gradually add remaining flour, beating with heavy duty electric mixer or wooden spoon.Turn our on lightly floured board and knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm place until almost doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured board and knead lightly. Divide dough into two equal halves.

Shaping Dove by Hand - Divide in half again to assemble your first bird. Roll out one piece into an oval about 4 by 8 inches. Lay across the width of a large baking pan for the wings. Roll the other piece into a triangle about 4 inches wide at the base and 9 inches long. Place like a cross over the wings, and holding the triangle at the center, twist it over once and press down the base for the tail. Twist again at the top in the opposite direction forming the neck and head. Pull out beak with fingers. With a sharp knife, score tail into feathers. Repeat making a second dove with remaining dough.

Using Dove Pans or Molds - Place each dough half gently into dove-shaped pans or dove-shaped molds - Some of these can be used to bake and serve the bread, give the second dove as a unique Easter gift!

For topping spread Almond Paste Topping (below) over wings and tail. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Beat remaining egg white until frothy and brush over entire surface. Sprinkle wings and tail with sugar and almonds. Bake in 325 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Makes two large doves.

Almond Paste Topping

Beat together 1 egg white, 1/2 cup almond paste and two tablespoons sugar.

Alternate method of combining dough is to soften yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Then use 3/4 cup milk in recipe. Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg yolks, then add milk, yeast and flour.

Lombardy, Italy:
Lombardy, Italy

get directions

Although Columba Pasquale (Easter Dove) is served all over Italy at Easter time, many claim it is a native of Lombardy in the North.

Sicilian Easter Doves en Italia


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    • profile image

      Bjorn Button 

      6 years ago

      Great recipe. Running wedding catering business has helped me appreciate recipes like this one that shows a unique variety of taste that everyone can enjoy. We are always looking to add recipes from the around the world to bring blend to a wedding.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Wow, Kath - that is so ironic! I kind of figured with a name like Novelli!? I am actually mixed with a bit of Irish and German too but the Italian food and culture is such fun I probably celebrate that a bit more. Also, my ex and my son's Father is from a small town outside Pisa, Italy so that kind of renewed my interest.

      I have heard of Gianluiggi - my son mentioned him I believe (he loves all sports) so I must tell him about this now, Wow! Even though he is grown and married, Nic still calls his Mama daily so I can't wait to share this with him.

      Oh Yeah, the bread! Great & tasty - I love bread too but very time consuming, I suggest using the molds (or maybe I am just lazy), my Dad still shapes by hand.


    • Lucky Cats profile image


      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Kathy, this is too ironic! I am also Italian and my family originates from Milano! And, have you heard of Gianluiggi Buffon? The Goalie for the Italian soccor team? He's my 2nd cousin! I didn't know you were name, Novelli, kind of gives it away! After my divorce, I returned to my maiden name because I like it so much! are so right..bread is a mainstay, a primary part of the Italian diet! That must be why I eat SO MUCH crusty, spicy, crunchy pungent breads! Love the Dove Bread...I must try this one. Up Awesome and Beautiful and there should be a TASTY!!

      PS..Actually, I'm 2/3's of the Axis of Evil....1/2 German, 1/2 Italian...yikes!!!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thanks Fossillady- Wow a su chef - that is almost as cool as his Italian heritage, my son is really in to that too because my ex husband is 100% Italian, but he can't cook a grilled cheese :-)

      The bread is really good though!

      Buona Pasqua !!

    • Fossillady profile image


      7 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      I love the story about how your father took up cooking class! That is so cool! My husband was Italian and so my son's have inherited the Italian pride! I don't have a sliver of Italian in my blood. I made homemade bread just yesterday! There is nothing like homemade bread! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I'll show it to my Italian son who's a su-chef!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Ciao Chatkath!

      Compliments for the nostalgic post about an Italian traditional recipe, thanks to your Father!!!

      I'll prepare Colomba Pasquale too!

      Buona Pasqua!!!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thanks R. It is very good, hope my Dad is up for making it this year! (LOL) Thank you for commenting!

    • rpalulis profile image


      7 years ago from NY

      Italian Easter Dove Bread sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      If anyone can do it Susan, I know you can! I have seen some of your favorite recipes :-0 I know shaping can be a challenge (Or so I've heard) which is why I would probably use a mold(?) Do let me know if you try it and if you have any feedback/changes/hints too (I won't tell my Dad). Thanks so much for commenting!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wonderful story and I will try this recipe. It looks wonderful and I too am a bread lover. I will let you know how it turns out. Hopefully I can get the shape right :)

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      I know exactly what you mean MM, I really want to surprise everyone with an edible version of this Easter Dove but, I just don't have much confidence when it comes to yeast recipes...Thank you so much for commenting, if you do give it a try, let me know how it turns out for you. ;-)

    • Maggie-May profile image

      Nadine M AuCoin 

      7 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

      This is a wonderful delight to read on this fine morning. It is heartfelt in every chosen word, and your memories are very nice of you to share. I sure wish I could bake, but I'm afraid to even try again. This recipe sounds delicious and looks great too. Thanks for sharing, I've booked marked it just in case I try surprise myself and make the kids a special treat this year. My baking is always good for a great laugh at my house...I just can't handle the bruised ego after all my hard work. :) This recipe is laid it with the best instructions so I just may give it a try, thanks again for sharing..


    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thanks top-bannana, if it weren't so much work I'd be be baking myself:) Although using the mold is much easier than trying to shape dove out by hand...

      Katie-you are so right, I am sure the memory is what will live on. Thank you for stopping in!

    • katiem2 profile image


      7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Thank you for sharing such a lovely recipe for Italian Easter Bread Papas way is always the best way. Great tradition and much appreciated. :) Katie

    • top-bannana profile image


      7 years ago from England

      oh i'm getting hungry just thinking about it, thanks chatkath i may start a midnight baking session in a moment. Hugs

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thank you R - Yes it would be kind of a hassle to figure out the substitutions but let me know if you do and I will post if you like. Yes, I love the Italian, wish I could speak but I am afraid I understand very little, unless it's a recipe of course!

      Greetings Kashmir - Nothing like the smell coming from a bakery, I bet I would weigh a ton if there was one close to me. Thanks so much for commenting!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Chatkath, great hub,I can almost smell the bread just out of the oven . I love fresh bread just out of the oven. I'm lucky i don't live far from a bakery and they have some great assortment of fresh breads .

      Awesome and vote up !!!

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      Oh, how lovely--both your memories and the recipe! It would take some time for me to adjust for substitutions, and if I ever do I will let you know. Watching the video all the way through would be helpful...but I could come back just to listen to the delightful spoken Italian! :)

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thank you Catgypsy (Love that username!) Most delicious!

      And Thank you Epi - Food does set the stage for some really great memories, most of them good fortunately, otherwise they were handed under the table to the dog or cat....

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ......yes Kathy those fond lovely memories which we will take with us through the rest of our lives - and it's often the subject of food which connects to people, places and things in such a cherished and emotional way - and it tastes good too -and its that subjective point of view which remains with us - forever - well I love your dedication and passion in putting your hubs together the way you do - always a pleasure to read your hubs - and even a greater pleasure to have you as my friend!!!

    • catgypsy profile image


      7 years ago from the South

      What a great hub about your father and his dedication to cooking! It sounds delicious.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thankyou vocalcoach

      Hope you are feeling better, maybe an easter dove would be a nice comforting final chapter-i love bread too BTW. Your son sounds like such a sweetheart, and he cooks too? You are truly blessed-i doubt my son would attempt much more than a brownie mix!Thanks

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      What a magnificent hub this is!!!! I love, love, love bread. This recipe may be abit to challenging for me, but after sharing it with my son, Randy (great cook), I think we may just give it a go. Wonderful (like you). Thanks Chatkath for this delicious Dove Bread recipe and video. Mmmmmmmmm. :)vocalcoach

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Genna Thank you! Sweetbread sounds pretty good too :-) I am glad you stopped in to say Hi!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      My grandmother used to make sweetbread; but this particular recipe has my mouth watering. Thank you!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Thanks Denise, what a coincidence about your family being from Milano, very close to Lombardy. When I researched, there wasn't much consistent information about where the bread originated (like most things I guess).

      I love bread too Susie, my favorite - you'll note that I have never attempted to make it myself, way too involved for me, I will eat it though :) I just loved the Italian video - even if no one can understand, adds a little character? (LOL)

      Thank you for visiting Hub Sharyn - Yep those memories never go away do they?

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Great story CK about your Dad and his culinary craft and playing the Easter Bunny. What great memories! And the bread sounds great ~ I'm itching for some carbs now :)

    • Sweetsusieg profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      BTW- Loved the video even if it was in Italian and I couldn't understand but 1 word (tepid)... LOL

    • Sweetsusieg profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      I too am a bread lover!! If it were up to be, bread would be the main part of the meal! But since I cook for those meat eaters I live with.... I may have to give this a whirl, I'm always doing something new and exciting for Holiday's. This sounds like a wonderful plan!

      Thanks for sharing!! Rated Up - useful and shared!!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      I can't believe you have no comments on this wonderful hub, Cath. I loved it. Wish I were motivated enough to try the recipe, however, I love to eat bread and my hips will attest to that!

      Lombardy, Italy is close to where my mothers family is: Milano. Thanks for sharing the map location. Rated it awesome.


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