Colomba di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)

Colomba di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)

This traditional Italian Easter bread is soft and delicate with bits of candied orange peel in every bite. The bread is brushed with a sweet glaze, then topped with sliced almonds and pearl sugar for a crunchy coating on top. Traditionally, this bread with be flavored with an orange scented extract called fiori di Sicilia. If you are having trouble finding it in your local market, the combination of vanilla and orange extracts used in this recipe make for a delicious substitute.


For the Starter:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast

  • 1 cup milk, warmed to about 110 F

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolk, white reserved for topping

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons orange zest

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup candied orange peel

For the Glaze and Toppings:

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from dough

  • 3 tablespoons almond flour

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

  • 2 tablespoons pearl sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Kristina Vanni 

  2. The night before you want to bake the Easter dove bread, prepare the starter. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1/2 cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight (or for at least 6 hours) at room temperature.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  4. The next day, prepare the dough. Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl. The starter should be bubbly. To the bowl with the starter, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of yeast and 2 cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with the dough hook. Mix it on medium speed for about 5 minutes.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  5. Add the 1/3 cup of sugar, eggs, egg yolk, remaining 1/2 cup flour, salt, orange zest, vanilla extract and orange extract. Knead for about 15 minutes on medium speed, adding up to an additional 1/2 cup flour if necessary if the dough is not coming together.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  6. Once the dough is soft and elastic, add the butter slowly while kneading. Continue kneading for 10 more minutes or until the dough is satiny and soft.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  7. Add the candied orange peel and mix to combine.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  8. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel, and let the dough rise for 3 hours or until at least doubled in size.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  9. Divide the dough in two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  10. Shape the larger one into a 10-inch log, with one end slightly smaller than the other end. This will be the “head” of the dove. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use the edge of your hand to form a crease in the center.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  11. Shape the smaller piece of dough into a 7-inch log. Place it across the larger log, inside the crease. Gently bend this log into a crescent shape. (This will be the “wings” of the dove.) . Cover the loaf lightly with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  12. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Beat the egg white until foamy and whisk in the almond flour, granulated sugar, and almond extract until you have a white paste-like glaze.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  13. When the loaf is ready to bake, carefully brush the glaze on the bread, being careful not to deflate it.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  14. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and the pearl sugar. 

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  15. Bake the loaf for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it with foil for the final 10 minutes of baking. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190 F.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  16. Remove the bread from the oven and carefully slide it onto a rack to cool.

    Colomba Di Pasqua (Easter Dove Bread)  Kristina Vanni

  17. Cut into thin slices to serve. This bread is excellent when served with a bit of mascarpone cheese and a drizzle of honey. Enjoy with an espresso or glass of Italian wine.


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