A year of great success with leavened dough. And, if Christmas in Italy means Panettone, Easter means Colomba (Italian for dove).
At this point I could talk you about the Christian meaning of the dove, I could talk about peace and olive branches .. but let's be honest, these things are not for me, since my religiosity and my closeness to the Christian religion in particular are very thin. Therefore, I face Easter like any other holiday, in a very secular and festive way, the one that rejoice over a few days home from work, some relax, some movies to see, some hours to spend with friends, some time available for cooking and baking.

So, when I hear the word "dove" I don't think about a symbol of Christianity (I hope nobody feels offended by my spirit, or lack of spirit, depending on your point of view), but I think about this old Italian song (despite this reference to the 50s, I swear that I am not 80 years old … and anyway, if I was 80, I would be a hell of an eighty-year-old) and I think about this Italian Easter dessert.

Therefore, because of the same secular and festive spirit above, for me celebrate Easter was about taking a weekend off, shopping and then locking myself in the kitchen with a good friend to prepare the Colomba, between a laugh, a look at some cookbook, a chat and a few other trials (between risings we made some delicious pitas, but I'll talk about them some other time), even managing to carve out some time for a beer in the evening. And, unlike the making of Panettone, we didn't even cursed so much .. perhaps, somehow, the Easter spirit manifested itself, for sure in the miracle of this dove, which is simply amazing.

I am posting the recipe today (instead of my usual post on Saturday), so you're gonna make it for Easter Sunday, if you want to try it.



Recipe from Menta e cioccolato (here the recipe with brewers' yeast, and here the one with mother yeast, with step by step pictures), the reference point for my great leavened doughs.

Total Ingredients (for a 750 g dove. I didn't redo the doses, as recommended by Morena, but I only added the candied fruits, you'll have some leftovers, which you can use in any other mold. I tripled the doses since I wanted 3 doves, and I obtained an additional 500g dove. I put it in the 750g mold and it was perfect).

* 378 g strong flour (for me a Manitoba)
* 145 g water
* 4-6 g fresh brewer's years (I used 6 g, but it could work with less yeast)
* 122 g unsalted butter
* 90 g sugar
* 4 egg yolks
* 10 g honey
* 3 g salt
* vanilla, orange and lemon flavors (you can use chemical or natural flavors. I used a vanilla bean and grated orange/lemon peel)
* 75 g candied orange
* 75 g candied citron
[next time I’ll use 50 g and 50 g, adding 50 g of raisin]

To glaze and garnish

* an egg white
* 40 g almond flour
* 40 g powdered sugar
* 25 g almond, with peel
* 25 g sugar grain


Little yeast, 6 PM
* 60 g strong flour
* 30 g water
* 4-6 g fresh brewer's yeast

Mix yeast dissolved in lukewarm water and flour and knead until you have a ball. Place it in a bowl, cover it with cling wrap and leave it to rise in warm place (I suggest you the turned off oven) until doubled (it takes about an hour and a half).

First Dough, h 7:30 PM [NB. I knead by hand or with electrical whisks]
* Little yeast
* 260 g strong flour
* 102 g unsalted butter, softened
* 70 g sugar (to dissolve in water)
* 2 egg yolks
* 115 g water (100 g with sugar in it)

Knead for about 5 minutes the little yeast with yolks, then add sugar dissolved in water, softened butter and flour. Knead for a long time to string up the mixture well. By hand it will take about 40 minutes between kneading by hand, with whisks and by hand, with the food processor (K hook or leaf) it will take about the same time, but obviously it will make all the dirty work for you.
Then add the rest of the water gradually and string the dough again. If your flour "asks for it", add some more water (up to an additional 35 g). I needed just those 15 g.
Form a ball and, depending on your plan on the next day of work, you can start the rising immediately or delay it a bit, putting it to rest in the refrigerator. I lengthened the time of this rising, from about 10 h up to almost 13 h, without having problems. I finished kneading at 9 PM or so and I left it to rise until 10 AM the next day (I wanted to start an hour earlier, but sleep got me).

Second dough, 10 AM the next day
* First dough
* 58 g strong flour
* 10 g honey
* 3 g salt
* 20 g sugar
* 2 egg yolks
* 20 g unsalted butter, melted
* vanilla, orange and lemon flavors
* 75 g candied orange
* 75 g candied citron
[next time I’ll use 50 g and 50 g, adding 50 g of raisin]

Deflate the first dough a bit and add flour, honey, salt, sugar and flavors. String it, then add the egg yolks gradually, (let the dough absorbing them before pouring more). Then the butter to wire in 2 to 3 times, and string well. Finally, add the candied fruit and string again. I worked for about an hour. Cover with cling wrap and let it rest for one hour (I always recommend the turned off oven), prior to forming the dove.

Forming, 12 AM
Weigh your dough and take 750 g (with leftovers you can do whatever you want: smaller doves, or use it as any other dough). Take the dough and wrap it, ie fold it like this: roll up the dough on itself, then turn it of 90° and roll it ut on itself again. Then cut the dough in a half, place the cut on the worktop and roll the dough on itself (see the process here). Now you have two equal parts: one is the body and the other the wings of the dove. Place the two pieces into the cardboard mold, before the wings part and, above it, the body part. Cover it with cling wrap and let it rise until the dough is an inch below the edge of the mold; it took about 3 h.
Pre-heat the oven (without the dove in it) to 338° F (170° C).

Glazing – 3:30 PM
* a egg white
* 40 g almond flour
* 40 g powdered sugar
* 25 g almond, with peel
* 25 g sugar grain

Beat the egg white by hand, then add the powdered sugar and almond flour, stirring constantly. With a sac-a-poche or with a spoon (gently, being careful not to deflate the dove) cover the dove with glaze, then garnish it with the almonds and sugar grain.

Bake the dove in a preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, checking it with a toothpick. It should be well cooked, but not over cooked, or otherwise it will be less soft.

Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely (if you want, pierce it with the skewers and place it upside down, as for Panettone; this time I simply left it to cool). Store it in cellophane (wrap it when it's completely cold), and it will stay soft for days.

I was long-winded, but I wanted to be as accurate as possible.

With a slice of this colomba in my hand (who am I kidding? My dove is already dead) I wish you a Happy Easter .. And have a slice of dove!


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