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