Colomba – Easter Italian Cake
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Italians are famous for their interest in food and that means we have a cake for every special occasion. If Christmas is Panettone and Pandoro time, Easter is Colomba time. The Colomba is the typical Italian Easter Cake and it’s one of those recipes you can only make if you’ve enough time to spend in your kitchen. It’s not difficult to make a perfect Colomba but you need time and patience and, of course, you need to use good ingredients to make it work and a particular type of mould to give the dough the shape of a dove.
You can also make a quick colomba (recipe here in Italian) but the result is completely different: if a colomba is soft and very high, the quick version is similar to a sponge with the flavor of a colomba because of the ingredients.
Easter Italian Cake: ingredients for 1 (1 kg)
For the dough
500 grams of flour
100 ml of warm water
25 grams of fresh yeast
180 grams of butter
160 grams of sugar
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind of 1 orange
1 pinch of salt
70 grams of candied peels
For the icing
1 egg white
Easter Italian Cake: recipe
- Crumble the yeast in the warm water to dissolve it then, stirring with a wooden spoon, add 150 grams of flour and give the dough the shape of a ball. Put the dough in a big airtight container with lukewarm water and let it stand for 40 minutes, the time to let it rise and rise to the surface.
- Knead the remaining flour with sugar, egg yolks, 100 grams of softed butter, vanilla, lemon peel, orange peel and a pinch of salt. Gradually add milk in an amount such that the mixture will be soft and workable with your hands.
- Add the previously made yeast after having drained completely and knead all together. Put the dough to rise for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, add 50 grams of softened butter, knead quickly and put the dough to rise for other 7 hours.
- After 7 hours, add the remaining softened butter and the candied peels. Knead the dough and put tit into the mould (do not NOT butter and do NOT flour the mold).
- Let the dough rise into the mould for 4 more hours and in the meantime prepare the icing beating the egg yolk with the icing sugar. After 4 hours, brush the dove with the icing, add the sweet almonds and the sugar and bake at 190° for 15 minutes then at 180 ° for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Preparation time: about 14 hours
Tips for making a perfect Easter Dove
1. The amount of yeast is really subjective. Someone uses way less yeast to make the dove, I prefer to use a decent amount to be able to work easily with the flour but if you want you can reduce the total amount of the yeast making sure the other quantities are balanced.
2. You should always use strong flour because it contains way more gluten than the others and this will help the leavening process.
3. If you cannot find the mold, just use a big oval one. The shape will be different but the taste will be exactly the same. It’s even better to use a paper mold which will allow the dove to rise properly.
4. Do not pack the dove if it’s still hot. Pack it only when it’s completely cool.
5. This dove will last for a couple of days if stored in an airtight container or in a sealed bag. The presence of the fresh yeast means that the dough will dry out very easily. If it becomes dry, just dip into milk, tea or coffee or use as a basis for sponge-based cakes.