Colomba di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread) is sweet traditional Italian Easter Dove Bread. The dough is similar to Panettone but Dove shaped, made from scratch, usually on Good Friday to enjoy for breakfast, snack or dessert during holidays.
La Colomba is a delicious sweet bread made with yeast. In English Colomba means Dove. While Pandoro or Panettone is the traditional Cake/Bread for an Italian Christmas, then Colomba is the traditional yeast bread for Easter, describes Rosemary .
Why do Italians eat Colomba for Easter?
“La colomba di Pasqua” is also a typical gift in this period: a cake whose shape reminds a dove with outstretched wings. Although it originated from Milan, La Colomba is probably the only Easter sweet that is popular nationwide. The symbolic meaning of this bird is clear: it recalls peace, salvation, and resurrection.
There are several versions on how it all begun and here are some quoted from Eataly .
We know that the first colomba came from Milano, but the story doesn’t end there. The cake has inspired legends of peace stretching back to the Middle Ages – and they’re all different.
In one version, the colomba marks the 1176 Lombardian victory over the Holy Roman Empire, when two doves miraculously appeared on the battleground. Another legend suggests that the peace-inspiring cake was first baked in the sixth century by a young girl successfully pacifying the wretched King Albion of the Lombard tribe, who was demanding tribute from her hometown of Pavia. He loved the colomba so much that he set her free and spared Pavia.
…dramatic, right? While we don’t know the real story, we can tell you one thing for sure: one slice of colomba is worth a legion of legends.
Great stories, right?
So, to be back to present time and place, let me briefly describe the process for homemade colomba!
Once you got your dove shaped paper pan,
you need to know it takes only 40 minutes of your active time. Raising takes 7 hours and during this period, there are many things you can do if you organize your day. At least at our place.
You start with sponge in large bowl and add first and second knead ingredients as described in recipe below.
How do you serve Columba?
Delicious on its own, colomba is often served with fresh berries, drizzled in dark chocolate, slathered in sweet spreads, or paired with whipped cream. Italians will enjoy a slice with coffee for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up!
When should I eat colomba?
Colomba aka Easter Dove is served at the end of Easter lunch alongside chocolate eggs.
Why is colomba shaped like a dove?
Each cake is baked in the shape of a dove, symbolizing peace and the coming spring. The classic Colomba Cake features the simple addition of candied Sicilian orange peel (no raisins or citron like its Christmas counterpart) and is topped with crunchy pieces of sugar and whole almonds
How long does colomba last?
Once wrapped in plastic wrap, the Colomba bread, lasts up to six months and it will not mold! We always do it from scratch and it never, I mean never, lasts more than 3 days!
For more Easter goodies, take a closer look below:
Colomba di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)
Colomba di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread) is sweet traditional Italian Easter Dove Bread. The dough issimilar to Panettone but Dove shaped, made from scratch, usually on Good Fridayto enjoy for breakfast, snack or dessert during holidays.
- Ingredients for sponge:
- 5 Tbsp warm water
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
- First kneading ingredients:
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp warm milk
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- Second kneading ingredients:
- 10 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 large egg
- 3 Tbsp candied orange and other dried fruits to taste (lemon, lime, cherry)
- Orange peel to taste
- Topping ingredients:
- 1 egg white
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Sliced almonds to taste ( I used 1 Tbsp )
- 1 Tbsp pearl sugar
Combine all sponge ingredients in your mixer bowl so you can easily add all the other ingredients to finish your dove bread and bake.
After you whisk sponge ingredients, cover the bowl with tea towel and leave to rise at warm place for 1hour.
Add first knead ingredients (all purpose flour, sugar, salt, milk, egg and butter) and knead using your wooden spoon. You'll get smooth ball after 10 minutes. Cover with tea towel and leave to rise at warm place for 2 hours. After two hours, dough volume should be double in size.
Second knead ingredients (all purpose flour, melted butter, egg and candied fruits ) are the last ones to add to your dough. At this point you may turn the mixer to knead your Easter bread with dough hook. After 10 minutes you'll get nice, compact, stretchy dough. I do this with wooden spatula as well.
Prepare your Colomba paper moulds or any other dish you like.
Move your dough to lightly floured surface, knead few times and cut two quarters to make rounded shapes. Roll the other half to have a loaf. Place three little doughs to your Colomba paper pan( do nor grease it ) and let it rest, covered, at warm place, for 4 hours.
In a mug, whisk egg white and powdered sugar.
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 356 F. Place small heat proof pan with 2 cups of water on the bottom of your oven.
Brush your Easter Dove Bread with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices and pearl sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes. Set your oven temperature to 160 C / 325 F. Cover your Colomba with foil if browning too much and bake for additional 10 – 15 minutes.
Take your Italian sweet bread out and cool completely at room temperature.