Easter Dove Bread [Colomba Pasqua] is the most well-known of the many traditional breads prepared in celebration of the Easter holiday in Italy and around the world.
Italian Easter Dove Bread is a tradition with a long and colorful history that dates back as far as 572 A.D. The most popular legend, however, comes from Italy’s Lombardy region and the Lombardian victory over Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa. According to legend, two doves (representing the Holy Ghost) miraculously appeared over the battle field.
However it began, the popularity of Colomba Pasquale (literally, “Easter Dove”) swept across Italy, until it became what is now the unofficial national Easter bread.
While many dove bread recipes employ a simple paper form to create a rough dove shape, the method for forming the dough presented here results in not only a sweet, citrusy, delicious bite, but a beautiful presentation as well.
This is a rich, sweet egg bread is very easy to make, and I highly recommend it for novice and expert bread-bakers alike. Wrapped well, it will taste even better the second day, perfect for pre-Easter preparation.
Italian Easter Dove Bread
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup milk"
- 4 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 Tbls butter cut in four pieces
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp anise seed
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries craisins
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp water
- 14 blanched almonds
To prepare dough in an electric bread maker:
In a glass measuring cup, whisk eggs and egg yolk with enough milk to make exactly 1 ½ cups of liquid. Pour into bread machine or mixer.
Add flour, sugar, salt, butter, softened butter, orange zest, and anise in that order. Make a small indentation in the top and add the yeast.
Set the bread machine to the Dough cycle. When it beeps to add additional ingredients, add the craisins and golden raisins. (If your bread machine doesn’t have this feature, just add the craisins and raisins after the dough is thoroughly mixed, but before it completes the kneading process.)
When the dough process is complete, turn the dough out onto your countertop, cover with a clean cloth and let it rest another 5 minutes.
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.
To shape the Dove:
On a lightly floured board, roll dough into a 10"x8" rectangle. Cut into two 10"x4" rectangles.
Place one rectangle on the prepared baking sheet, and pinch middle to make wings.
On the second rectangle, pinch for head and body.
Cut seven 2 inch slashes for tail and fan out.
Cut two 2 inch slashes for each wing and fan.
Cover and let Dove rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine egg white and water and brush onto dove. Place almonds on feathers as shown.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire rack to cool.
You can also make the dough by hand. Just mix it up in your mixer, knead it as you would any bread dough, and let rise once before shaping.
Novice baker or in a hurry? You can also make this bread with a prepackage bread mix. Just follow the directions as instructed on the package, reducing the liquid by 1/4 cup, and adding the anise, zest, and dried fruit. After the dough has risen once, follow the directions for shaping the Dove.
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