Italian Easter Dessert: Colomba – Easter Dove

On Colomba Pasquale, or Easter Dove, the traditional Italian Easter cake (the counterpart of Colomba Easter cake the Christmas Panettone) and Milan, where the recipe was invented in the early ‘900. A unique cake, classy like the city where it was created. I’m in Milan for the Easter holidays. It’s a gray rainy day. It’s late March already but spring seems like it is still a long way off. It’s too cold to walk, and wrap up in my warm winter clothes. I tour around the city on the number 5 tram – one of the few originals from the 20’s which are still on the road. An original and inexpensive way to explore Milan. I find myself people-watching. You can’t help but notice that people from Milan have their own unique style. From the window of the tram I spot a middle aged woman in a smart camel coat, adorned with jewelry and wearing big sun glasses. And like her, countless others are strolling around in their best clothes and salon styled hair. Meanwhile, sitting in front of me on the tram, a man in his seventies is doing a good impression of a hipster. And I mean an original one. In a pair of fustian trousers, tweed jacket and a stylish trilby. Every city has got its own style and Milan looks like is held perpetually in the 60’s. It resembles a Fellini film and even though I am not in Rome it’s Dolce Vita. And I can’t really describe it in any other way but Dolce Vita. It’s the pleasure of stopping at a bar (there are some beautiful old-style bars in Milan really worth a stop) with a friend, spending the morning chatting about the recent political elections (you know how much Italians love talking about politics) while sipping a perfectly made cappuccino and eating a miniature Colomba – Easter Dove – the traditional Easter dessert from Lombardia, Northern Italy, invented in the early ‘900 by Angelo Motta. A dove shaped cake, topped with sugar and almond. Colomba Pasquale – Easter Dove Recipe:

Ingredients: For the dough:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ⅓ cup warm milk
  • 3¼ cups flour, divided, plus extra
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided, plus extra
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ cup candied orange peel, diced, plus extra

For the topping:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra
  • 4 amaretto cookies, ground
  • ⅓ cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup almonds
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling


Prepare the dough: In the bowl of a mixer, combine the yeast with the milk and ⅓ cup of warm water, and mix. Mix in 2 cups of the flour, and set aside to rise for 1 hour. Press on the dough to deflate it, and return to the mixer along with the egg yolks, superfine sugar, the remaining 1¼ cups flour, 3 tablespoons butter, vanilla extract, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix well, and set aside to rise for another 3 hours until it doubles in volume. Mix in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, the confectioners’ sugar and the candied orange peel. Set aside to rise for at least 10 hours or overnight. Divide the dough into 3 pieces (1 longer piece for the body and 2 smaller pieces for the wings). Fit into a dove-shaped paper mold, and place on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 375°. Prepare the topping: In a bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Fold in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, the amaretti and both flours. Drizzle on top of the dough, and set aside to rise for the fourth time, until the dough fills the mold and holds shallow indentations. Sprinkle with the almonds, and dust with ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. To serve, dust with more confectioners’ sugar, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

– Recipe: courtesy of: La cucina italiana magazine  For more recipes from Milan, check out cotoletta alla milanese or polenta recipe.

Italian Easter Dessert: Colomba – Easter Dove

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