Traditional Colomba di Pasqua

(Makes one 8 x 11-inch loaf) Ingredients: Sponge: 1/2 cup warm milk, 105 -115 degrees F. 1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast, divided 3/4 cup flour Dough: 2 eggs 1 egg yolk 1/3 cup granulated sugar 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon fiori di sicilia or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Grated zest of 1 orange or lemon 2 cups flour 1 cup dried fruit (combination of dark and golden raisins and candied orange peel) Almond Icing: 1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch 1 egg white Confectioners’ sugar Directions: To make the sponge: In a small bowl, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of yeast into the warm milk. Stir the yeast into the milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes to dissolve. Stir in the 3/4 cup flour to form a smooth paste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit in 12 hours or overnight, unrefrigerated. To make the dough: Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and yolk together. Beat in the sugar, remaining yeast, salt, and extract. Add the sponge and softened butter; beat to combine. Add 2 cups of flour and beat just enough to blend in the flour. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook. Otherwise, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. By hand you will knead for about 10 minutes. If you are using a dough hook, knead about 5 minutes. Add the dried fruit and knead just enough to incorporate. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal size pieces. Form each piece into a log about 12-inches long. Place the first piece into the dove mold in what would be the wings of the dove. The log goes across the body and around the edges of the wings. The second piece is placed from head to tail on top of the first piece.
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