Colomba di Pasquale is a traditional Italian Easter bread traditionally made with flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, and butter. The dough is speckled with dried fruit and then fashioned into a dove shape ("colomba" in Italian) and then topped with sugar and slivered almonds before baking. This version makes it possible without the eggs or dairy!
Colomba di Pasqua: Italian Easter Sweet Bread [Vegan]
For the Overnight Starter:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
For the Dough:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoons egg replacer whisked with 6 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 1/8 teaspoon fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoon vanilla extract orange oil
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup dried apricots, cranberries, and raisins
For the Topping:
- Non-dairy milk, for the wash
- 3 tablespoons almond flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 5-6 teaspoons sugar
To Make the Starter:
- The night before making the bread, mix together the starter ingredients in a bowl, cover, and set aside for up to 15 hours at room temperature.
To Make the Dough:
- The starter will be quite bubbly in the morning. Combine the starter, flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter, egg replacer, and fiori di sicilia and mix to combine. You might need to add 2-3 tablespoons water to get the dough to come together. Knead the dough with the dough hook for 12 minutes, by this time dough will be soft and satiny.
- Knead in the orange zest and dry fruit. Cover and set the dough aside for 3 hours. By this time, dough will be very puffy.
- Gently deflate the dough and divide into two pieces — one slightly bigger than the other.
- Shape the pieces into 10-inch and 7-inch long logs. Taper the 10-inch log on one side.
- Place the longest log lengthwise on a parchment lined baking sheet; use the edge of the 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 it into a crescent shape. Flatten the tail and the wings, then using a sharp knife or scissors to snip "feathers". Place a whole almond for the eye.
- Cover with a lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. Don't let it rise too much as the shape of the dove might get too distorted.
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
To Make the Bread:
- Combine non-dairy milk, almond meal, and sugar in a small bowl. This will be a thick glaze.
- Brush it on the dove liberally. Sprinkle the almonds and sugar on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 20 additional minutes. For the last 10 minutes, loosely tent the bread with an aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. By the end of baking time, bread should be golden brown and the internal temperature should be 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center. Gently move the bread onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.