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Colomba di Pasqua

This traditional Italian Easter yeast bread is rich with butter and eggs, slightly sweet, and flavored with orange and vanilla. The top is gilded with a sugar/nut syrup and pearl sugar before baking. Delicious plain or lightly toasted and served with Orange Honey Butter! Plan ahead – the Biga must raise overnight. The dough must raise 3 hours and the shaped Colomba another 2 hours. Trust me - the wait is worth it!
Author Rosalie D'Amico

Ingredients

Biga

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cool water
  • teaspoon instant yeast

Dough

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 8 tablespoons butter (4 ounces), melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk at room temperature – reserve egg white
  • cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon dry Marsala wine (optional)
  • Grated zest from 1 large orange

Topping Glaze

  • Reserved egg white
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pearl sugar

Instructions

Biga

  • Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and let rise at room temperature overnight.

Dough (the next day)

  • Combine flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla, orange, and almond extracts, Marsala and orange zest until well combined.
  • Add cooled butter to egg mixture and whisk together.
  • Combine the egg mixture and the Biga with the flour mixture to form a shaggy dough. The best way to do this is to get your hands in the bowl! It will take some time to come together. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is very smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  • Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot in your kitchen to raise for 2-3 hours until doubled in size. This usually takes the full 3 hours.
  • Grease a 9” springform or other round cake pan or a 10x5x3” loaf pan. Line bottom with parchment paper.
  • When dough has doubled, dump onto a lightly floured surface and deflate by folding over itself several times. Shape dough to fit the pan of your choice. Cover and let rise for another 2 hours. Dough should double.

Topping Glaze / Baking

  • Preheat oven to 325° convection.
  • Make topping by beating the egg white until foamy. Beat in the almond flour and sugar.
  • Brush the top of the bread with the topping and scatter pearl sugar over the top. Use only as much topping as you prefer. I usually do not use it all, but in Italy, they are very liberal with it.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 175°. If the bread is getting too brown, tent loosely with tin foil.

Notes

For the Orange Honey Butter, add 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 teaspoons grated orange zest to 4 ounces softened butter and mix well.  Yum yum!!!
If you are lucky enough to find Fiori di Sicilia flavoring, use only ½ teaspoon instead of the vanilla, orange, and almond extracts.