Note: This is a repeat of a recipe I try to re-post each year. I want to make another one this year. (And guard it better from certain people this time).
This is a fun Easter bread, Italian style. It’s basically just a rich egg bread decorated with almond paste and almonds but it’s the cool dove shape that makes it special. The most common version you see is baked in a mold to help with the shaping, but I’m skeptical my local grocer carries those so this is free-form. DO NOT leave unattended in a room with small children or the little heathens will pick the dove clean of the almonds.
Columba di Pasqua
makes one large loaf
1 envelope of yeast or 2 1/4 tsp.
1/4 c. warm water
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup warm milk
5-6 cups flour
4 or so ounces almond paste
27 whole almonds
beaten egg white
Dissolve yeast in water in a small bowl. Beat together butter, sugar, lemon peel, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs. Add yeast mixture and warm milk. Beat in about 5 cups of the flour. The dough will be soft.
Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead in enough of the remaining 1 cup flour to make a smooth dough, about 10 minutes of kneading. Place in oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 and a half hours.
Punch dough down and divide in half. Make two smooth balls of dough. Grease a large baking sheet and flatten one of the balls of dough into an oval about 11 x 6 inches in size (wings) onto the baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 40. minutes. This bread wants to burn, especially the “extremities” and the sugared parts. Cover it with foil after it has been in the oven a few minutes, paying particular attention to the aforementioned places. Brush body of dove (unsugared part) with butter when you take it out of the oven.
Good for dunking in coffee or milk.
One of the almonds fell off during cooking and burned to a crisp. I think it was Judas.