I printed the recipe, and resolved that I would bake the Colomba bread for Easter. Then I found out that there was an online baking event celebrating the venerable Colomba. The event announcement was made here:
- I don't have a dove pan, (I do have a silicone pig pan, but it just isn't the same!) I briefly entertained the idea of making my own dove pan (my Italian blogging buddy Natalia helpfully sent me a link showing how. After I made my bread I saw that a Dutch blogger, Lien, made a slide show on her Colomba post which demonstrates how to make a dove mold.) In the end I decided to go with two regular baking pans.
- This recipe starts with a sponge. I mixed up the sponge ingredients, using the recommended SAF Gold yeast. Once it doubled, I put it in the food processor, adding the other ingredients. For flavoring the dough, I used a total of 1 tsp orange zest, 2 tsp lemon zest and 2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Colomba usually features candied orange peel, or mixed candied citrus peels. I made up a big batch of mixed peel, using double the syrup ingredients of Giada's recipe and a variety of citrus peel:
1 1/2 lemons
When the peel was cooked and cooled, I chopped it fine and added some candied blood orange peel left over from my recent biscotti. I measured out 1/2 cup of the chopped peel and added 1/2 cup of chopped golden raisins.
- I was expecting the dough to take a couple of hours to rise, but in the warm spot on top of my stove it doubled in 1 1/2 hours.
- I divided the dough in half, and put in a loaf pan and a round deep springform pan.
- The dough took about an hour and a half to crest the pan!
- The recipe calls for a meringue type topping, made from whipped egg white along with sugar and ground almonds. My egg white would not whip in my mixer, so this was sort of a disaster for me. I eventually brushed on a very thin layer of the topping. Next time I'll use my mini fp to make a topping.
- I made a dove cutout out of waxed paper and tried to sprinkle the sugar and the almonds around it, leaving a dove shape in the middle. Well, that was a total bust, so I popped the pans in the oven.
- The breads rose beautifully in the oven.
- When it came time to release the loafs from their pans, the loaf baked in the springform pan stuck to the sides of the pan just a bit. We let it cool for about half an hour, then ate it slightly warm. The two of us easily downed half of one loaf (and would have eaten more but I wanted to photograph it the next morning in daylight!
- My attempted dove didn't show up very much on the finished loaf - if you look really closely at the loaves in the picture above (and use some strong imaginations) you might be able to discern a dove shape on the top of each. Or not!
- I put my little stencil over the loves and sifted confectioner's sugar all around it.
There: now you can see the dove!
This bread was soooo good - tender and plenty moist, with a great subtle fruit-and-citrus flavor.
Comparing this bread to other rich fruit-filled yeast breads that I've baked:
We liked it better than the hot cross buns, and better than the most recent batch of kugelhopf.
The SAF Gold yeast did its job very well, making this bread rise quickly and successfully for me. Aside from the meringue issue, this wasn't a very difficult recipe, and I can see myself making this one again, and maybe I'll make a dove mold!
I'm sending my Colomba to "Cindystar" (Italy), host of the "Easter Baking" event, for inclusion in the Colomba roundup. If you visit her blog on April 21, you will see other versions of beautiful and elaborate Easter dove breads! [Update: to provide the link for the roundup!]
I'm also sending this bread over to Susan at Yeastspotting - check out all the amazing bread on that weekly roundup.