The Colomba Pasquale recipe is a precious content to bring one of the Italian traditions in your house during Easter, to share with your beloved relatives and friends.
I perfectly know that Colomba Pasquale is not a Tuscan dessert. Colomba is part of the Italian Easter Traditions. But if you are visiting Tuscany during Easter time, you will see Colomba everywhere. In the shop window of bakeries, groceries, and served in some restaurants. And for sure on the table of every Italian family.
But what is a Colomba Pasquale? Literally, it means “ Easter Dove”. It takes the name from its shape that has been given for the relation with Easter celebrations. It is a really popular dessert of Italian tradition. Have you already heard about Panettone? Well, Colomba Pasquale is the Easter sister of it, almost!
If you like Colomba, as long as you are in Italy, you can have as much as you want. But when you are back home? It is not so common finding this cake abroad. Maybe, you will find Colomba in some shops that sell Italian goods. My suggestion is to avoid commercial versions. Mostly because of their artificial taste. And, as you already know, they are full of preservatives.
Instead, if you already tried the dessert, or your Italian ancestors told about it, you should try to bake it. This Colomba Pasquale recipe is written to permit you to prepare your homemade Colomba. I know, it is a calorie bomb (478 kcal), but a slice of Colomba every Easter won’t be that bad.
The origins of the Colomba Pasquale
The legend of King Alboino
This legend of this dessert dates back to the high Middle Age in Lombardy (northern Italian region). This is what Motta, a famous Italian brand, said. They have high regard for having made so popular the Colomba Pasquale in Italy.
The story talks about King Alboino. During the 572 B.C, after three years of siege, he finally entered in Pavia the day before Easter. An old baker offered a strange dessert with a dove shape to the King. He wanted to calm down the king’s anger, explaining that his tribute was a symbol of peace during Easter. The dessert was smelling of honey and oven. It was so good and inviting, that the King agreed with a promise of peace.
The legend of Queen Teodolinda and the Irish Abbot
Another legend says the Colomba Pasquale is related to the Longobard Queen Teodolinda and the Irish Saint abbot of St. Columbanus.
The abbot arrived in the city, around 612 B.C. The Lombard Kings invited him and his monks for a sumptuous lunch. Despite all the game dishes of the banquet, Saint Columbanus and his monks rejected those rich meats. It was on Friday, and a time of penance, such as that of Lent.
The Queen Teodolinda got offended not understanding the reason for the refusal. The abbot passed to diplomacy to solve this unfortunate situation. Saying that they would have eaten meat only after they have been blessed. The abbey raised his right hand in a sign of the cross transforming all the dishes in white bread doves. White as their monastic robes.
The prodigy impressed the Queen so much that she decided to include the abbot’s sanctity. She also donated to the monks the land of Bobbio, the birthplace of the Bobbio Abbey. The white dove is also the iconographic symbol of the Saint and is always depicted on his shoulder.
The recent story of Colomba Pasquale recipe
It was during the ’30s that Angelo Motta, a baker from Milan, had the idea of making Colomba the cake that everyone should have consumed during Easter. He started using an old recipe for the dessert.
The baker was already making another dessert of the Christmas tradition, the “Panettone”.
He used the same machinery, and a similar recipe to create the new dessert. Then, he sent a sample to famous writers and journalists, to get their impressions on the dessert.
The Colomba Pasquale had an enormous success. Year by year, it became part of the Italian traditions, as a sign of peace and spring.
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Colomba Pasquale recipe
Colomba Pasquale Ingredients
- 3,5 cup Manitoba flour
- 1/2 cup Warm water
- 2 big eggs
- 2 oz milk
- 5 oz butter room temperature
- 3 oz candied orange or citron
- ¾ oz brewer’s yeast fresh
- 5 oz white caster sugar
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 spoon Marsala wine
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 orange zest
- 1 vanilla bean with seeds
- 1¼ oz egg whites
- 3 oz white caster sugar
- ¾ oz almond not peeled
- 1 spoon Amaretto liquor (optional)
- Sugar grains
- Entire almonds to decorate
- Dilute the brewer’s yeast in 2 oz of warm milk. Add 2 oz of Manitoba flour and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least 1 hour until the dough has doubled its volume.
- Let deflate the first leavened dough by mixing it with a spatula. Add 1/2 cup of warm water and 4 oz of Manitoba flour. Mix well, cover and let rise for another hour in a warm space until the dough has doubled its volume.
- Put the leavened dough in a kneading bowl. Add 2 oz of sugar and 5 oz of flour. Turn on the kneader and then stringing the dough with the appropriate hook. Knead for 3 minutes. Then add gradually 2 oz of soft butter into cubes. Let stringing the dough to the hook and knead until you obtain an elastic dough. Put into a bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled its volume for at least 1 hour / 1 hour and a half.
- Once risen, put the mixture in the bowl of the mixer along with 9 oz of Manitoba flour and the remaining sugar ( 4 oz). Turn on the kneader and let absorb to the dough the mixture powders. Then add, one at a time, shelled whole eggs. Waiting for the first is absorbed by the dough before adding the second. Meanwhile, in a bowl prepare the aroma mixing the sweet wine, the lemon and orange zest, together with the seeds of a vanilla bean.
- Now add the remaining butter (4 oz at room temperature) cut into small pieces little by little. Ultimate adding the salt and spices. Knead for 10 minutes until the mixture does not string the hook and appear soft and elastic. Then put into a bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour until doubled.
- Overthrow the risen dough on a work surface and spread it with your hands. Spread the candied upon the dough and begin to work vigorously to distribute the candies throughout the dough. Make a ball, put it in a bowl and let it rise covered for at least 1 hour until doubled.
- Place the leavened dough on a work surface and cut in half. Cut one of the two parts in half again and create 3 sausages: a larger one (the body of the Colomba Pasquale) and 2 smaller (the wings).
- Put the 3 parts in a mold for Colomba for 2,2 lbs. Cover and let rise the Dove until there will be 0 25⁄32 in to the mixture to reach the edge of the mold.
Prepare the icing
- In a mixer, blend the sugar with almonds until you obtain a fine powder. Whip the egg whites, and slowly add the powder obtained. Assemble everything with the whisk for 5 minutes. At the end, add Amaretto liqueur and stir.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 82°F in a static mode. Once the dough is leavened, spread the surface of the Colomba with the base of albumen icing. Decorate it with almonds and granulated sugar.
- Bake in a hot oven and, in the first 20 minutes of cooking, every 5 minutes, open the oven door for a few seconds to let steam out. Then, continue cooking for another 20 minutes by lowering the temperature to 160°C / 71°F.
- Once cooked let the Colomba cool on a wire rack, or you can let it cool upside down, in the raised position by serving the proper irons, such as those used for the cake.
- Colomba retains its softness for 3-4 days when stored in an airtight plastic bag.