April 12, 2009

Colomba Pasquale (Italian Easter Dove Bread)


The Colomba Pasquale is an Italian sweet bread, somewhat similar to the panetonne, and is baked at Easter. Shaped like a dove, the bread is glazed and covered with crystallized sugar and unpeeled almonds. Hence the name, Colomba (meaning dove) and Pasquale (meaning Easter).

There are a couple of stories about the origin of this bread. According to this source, "Colomba's history can be traced to Milan and the victory of Legnano, in 1176, when cities of the Lombard League defeated Emperor Frederick Barbarossa,who was intent on capturing Italy for the Holy Roman Empire. It is said that two doves, symbolizing the Holy Ghost, appeared on the altar of the chariot carrying the battle standards and that the colomba commemorates that event and victory - an example of the role of food in history and food as history."




I came across references to the Colomba Pasquale when I was going through some articles on the various types of bread baked for Easter. The unusual shape of this bread caught my attention and I almost did not make it, as the shape of the bread comes from using a dove shaped mould which I did not have. I understand that one can make the mould oneself, but it seemed too much of an effort.

Then I chanced upon Lien's BBD #8 post at her blog, Notitie Van Lien. In a very detailed and well explained post, she writes how she made and shaped her beautiful Colomba Pasquale by hand. I chose to use her recipe to make the bread, as it is much simpler and can be done in one day compared to most other traditional recipes which involve quite a few rises, including one overnight.

I halved Lien's recipe and made some small changes, only to adjust for ingredients that are not available here.
I used salted butter throughout, omitted the orange zest (it's not the season for oranges and my family is not partial to zest anyway) and the candied peel.
To keep the orange flavour of the bread, I used warm orange juice (store bought) to proof the yeast for the sponge and the first dough.
I only used 2 egg yolks instead of the 1 1/2 + 1 1/2 yolks required as a result of halving Lien's recipe.

I must say I was quite happy with the way my Colomba Pasquale turned out, shape-wise and taste-wise. I know that’s not the best looking bird any of us has seen by far, but I thought my slightly podgy and plump little dove looked a little cute.
The butter, eggs and sugar ensure that the texture and taste of this bread is more cake-like than a bread. They also result in a very tasty bread.
Even though the bread making process took a greater part of my day, this is not a very difficult bread to make. All that is required is a bit of planning, as most of the time involved in baking a colomba pasquale is taken up in the 4 different rising periods required for the dough.
I am sending this to Cinzia at CindyStar for her Easter Colomba Pasquale baking event. This also goes to Zorra who is hosting YeastSpotting this week.


26 comments:

Tina said...

Hai aparna first time to ur blog....very nice blog with lots of yummy nd super recipes......

A_and_N said...

Oooh, someone also did dove bread. I should try this soon!

I loved the pachadi too :)

Lien said...

You did a fabulous job here Aparna!!! This dove looks so beautiful. I'm glad you like the taste a lot too, it's a great bread. And we, who can't buy (paper) molds in our countries, have no choice but to make a mold or to go freestyle. And you sure made a wonderful one!

Cham said...

Look like u re a good artist too, the dove came out perfect!

Jamie said...

Aparna, your Easter Dove looks beautiful. Loved the write-up about it.

Indhu said...

the dove came out fantastic :)
love this recipe :)

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Just read about this at Elra's too. Plump & cute, that's what you dove bread is. Was just wondering if I could make it here...& you did just that Aparna. Well done.
BTW, is your sis here yet?

Divya Vikram said...

Looks pretty! Happy Easter.

Suparna said...

Hi Aparna,
Tha's new to me it's kind of unique too! hadn't heard of it before. The dove looks cute and well done! without a mould :)
Enlightening post!
TC

jayasree said...

Good job Aparna, dove bread looks cute.

Jude said...

Looks great! I meant to bake a columba as well but didn't have time. Such a busy week!

Snooky doodle said...

Oh I like colomba and its so so good :) Hope you had a nice Easter :)

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Rachel said...

I wanted to do a dove bread too...its the lengthiness that's been putting me away..love how it is shaped and the brown crust.

Kitchen Flavours said...

Oh wow luscious....

Madhumathi said...

New to me..The bread looks great :)

Cindystar said...

Aparna, your dove is so nice and kute...and seems she's flying all around giving love and peace we all need!
I am so proud of all of you who made Colomba without molds, a great effort I admire so much!
Hope you had a lovely Easter Day!

Barbara said...

Looks like you were busy, too, Aparna, with your beautiful Colomba Pasquale. Next year I will have to try your recipe for Easter. ;-)

Aparna said...

Welcome here, Tina and thanks for your kind words.

N, its worth a try.

Thanks Lien. Appreciate your comment. I was just following your lead.:)

Not yet, Deeba. She'll be here at the end of the month.

It,s not all that complicated, Rachel. Most of the time is taken up by the proofing.

Thanks, Cinzia.

Do try it, Barbara. It takes just a day.

Rajee said...

Aparna, You've done great even without mould. I hope u can try other shapes too without mould. If I try it, then I'll get lot of messy in the kitchen. I know u'll laugh when I say this. Happy Easter to you and ur family! Wish me Happy Tamil Year too! I too wish the same to u and ur family.
I have become so lazy eating and sleeping, Aparna. Give me engergy to boost up to post recipes in my blog.

sra said...

Your dove's cute. I began using my old oven again, and resumed baking in a small way, nowhere near this, though.

Aparna said...

Thanks, Rajee and I have messes in my kitchen too. You just don't see them! :)
Seasons' Greetings to you too. I'm sure you'll find the motivation to post soon.

Sra, I'm happy to hear that. Looking forward to your "oven" posts, maybe the brownies? :)

zorra said...

Your to harsh on you, the dove looks perfect!

n.o.e said...

Your free form dove is more than a little cute - it's downright artistic! And delicious too, I'll bet. The one I made is even simpler, but we still loved the flavor. And I skipped the dove shape altogether...
Nancy

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Your dove does look very cute, and very delicious too!

Aparna said...

Susan, Zorra and Nancy, truly appreciate your comments.