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Colomba Pascuale

“It’s a penguin! It’s a plane! It’s a pregnant porpoise!” Those are literally the words my family used to describe my Colomba Pasquale. Fair enough, this Italian Easter Bread is supposed to look like a dove, and this version may require a little stretch of the imagination, but in my defense, I couldn’t get the traditional mould on time. This bread is a must have on my Easter Brunch Table, and this year I decided to tackle it myself, rather than buy one. Despite its questionable shape, it really is delicious! I followed the @kingarthurflour recipe as far as I could with the ingredients I had on hand. It has a hint of orange and is similar to Pannetone in texture. Make the biga (starter) tonight and get to baking the rest tomorrow - it’s worth it! This freezes well too, this way you can enjoy it toasted with butter in the weeks to come.

So if you feel like rolling up your sleeves and seeing if you can one-up me on making a dove out of this, please do and make sure to tag #gatherandbe!

Ingredients for 1 loaf

For the biga (overnight starter)

  • 1 cup (120g) All-Purpose Flour

  • 1/2 cup (113g) cool water

  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

For the dough

  • 2-1/4 cups (269g) All-Purpose Flour

  • 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

  • 1/3 cup (67g) sugar

  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter, at room temperature

  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk at room temperature. Reserve the white for topping.

  • 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/8 teaspoon orange oil *

  • Grated rind of 1 large orange

  • 1 cup (170g) dried fruit, of your choice, chopped if large. I used yellow raisins.

*if you don’t have orange oil, use vanilla extract and more grated orange peel

For the topping

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from earlier

  • 3 tablespoons almond flour or 3 tablespoons blanched almonds, finely ground

  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar

  • 2 tablespoons (14g) sliced almonds

  • 5 to 6 teaspoons (28g) coarse white sugar or pearl sugar

The night before you want to make the bread, mix together the biga (overnight starter) ingredients. Cover the bowl, and leave it at room temperature for up to 15 hours or so.

The next day, combine the bubbly starter with all of the remaining dough ingredients except the grated orange rind and the dried fruit. Mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 12 minutes at medium speed, stopping the mixer every 3 minutes to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. By the end of the kneading time, the dough should become elastic and satiny. It should be starting to leave the bottom and sides of the bowl, though it won't form a smooth ball. Knead in the grated orange rind and dried fruit.

Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours. It should become quite puffy.

Divide the dough in two pieces, with one slightly larger than the other. Shape one into a 10" (25 cm) log, with one tapered end; and the other into a 7" (18 cm) log.

Place the longest log lengthwise on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet; use the edge of your hand to form a crease in the center. Lay the shorter log crosswise across it, right at the crease. Shape the shorter log into "wings" by pulling the ends back it into a crescent shape. (This doesn't really look much like a dove; think of it as a symbolic representation!)

Cover the shaped loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it's puffy; this will take about 1 to 2 hours, depending on what type of yeast you've used. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Make the topping by mixing the egg white, ground almonds, and sugar. Gently paint this glaze all over the loaf; be generous. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds, then the pearl or coarse sugar.

Bake the loaf for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, tenting it with foil for the final 10 minutes of baking. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, and carefully slide it onto a rack to cool.

Recipe copyright King Arthur Flour

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