Easter Colomba Recipe. Colomba is the Italian word for dove, and this sweet yeast cake from Lombardy is traditionally cooked in the shape of the bird. Traditionally, the Italians are more likely to buy this in their local pasticceria than make it, hence the tremendous choice of beautifully boxed colomba available in delicatessens during Easter season.
Makes 16 slices
15g active dried yeast
150ml milk, lukewarm
3 egg yolks
55g caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ lemon, finely grated rind
400g strong white flour
¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
115g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
115g candied orange peel, chopped
70g blanched almonds, chopped
Lightly beaten egg white or melted butter, to glaze
55g white sugar cubes, crushed
30g whole blanched almonds
Mix the yeast granules with the milk and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and set aside, covered, for about 15 minutes until frothy.
Place the egg yolks, sugar, salt and lemon rind in a large bowl and beat well. Stir in the yeast mixture. Beat in half the flour with the nutmeg, then gradually beat in the softened butter. Add the remaining flour and mix to form a soft dough.
Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until light and springy. Shape the dough into a ball, place it inside a clean warm bowl, and cover. Leave the dough to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size. Meanwhile, grease a 22cm springform cake tin.
Turn out the risen dough on to a lightly floured surface. Knock back and knead in the chopped candied peel and almonds. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the prepared tin, pushing down well with your knuckles so it fills the base of the tin. Brush with beaten egg white or melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar and almonds.
Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes, or until the dough just reaches the top of the tin. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the bread sounds hollow when unmoulded and tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Serve in slices, with mascarpone and manuka honey.