The Italian Colomba Pasquale, baked in a baked-paper mold or shaped by hand, is loosely styled in the shape of a flying dove. The rich, buttery bread is filled with fruit and nuts and has a crispy top made from ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites.
- Yield: Makes 1 loaf
Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 1999
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for bowl
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large whole eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup candied orange strips, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup blanched whole almonds
- 1 tablespoon pearl sugar
- 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast, milk, and 1 cup flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Lightly butter a large bowl. Attach mixer bowl to mixer fitted with dough hook. On medium-low speed, add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast, remaining 3 cups flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, butter, whole eggs, lemon zest, salt, candied orange strips, and raisins. Knead until dough is smooth but still sticky, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough stand until doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours.
Using your fist, punch down dough. Place a 10-by-12 1/2-inch dove-shaped paper mold or a 10-inch spring-form pan on a baking sheet. Fill center of mold with dough, and then fill the wings. Using your fingers, spread and press dough so mold is evenly filled. Cover mold with plastic wrap, and set aside until dough has doubled in size, 2 to 3 hours.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole almonds, remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and egg whites in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until almonds are finely chopped. Gently spread over risen dough. Sprinkle the pearl sugar and slivered almonds over dough. Sift confectioners' sugar over top.
Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; continue baking until a skewer inserted into center of bread comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer mold and baking sheet to a wire rack, and let cool completely.
When ready to serve, cut directly through the paper, and slide knife between bread and bottom of mold to remove slices.