Colomba Pasquale: the Recipe of the Italian Doveshaped Easter Cake
This delicious sweet cake traditionally closes the Easter Lunch with the Chocolate Eggs, because since ancient times, eggs and doves have a strong symbolic value of peace, rebirth and love.
According to the Bible it was a dove with an olive branch in its beak, to return to Noah after the Universal Flood to witness the reconciliation between God and his people.
The dove, as a cake, seems to have deep roots in the Middle Ages, when King Alboino decline in Italy with his barbarian hordes, and attacked Pavia. It is said that after a siege of three years, burned by a strong desire for revenge, Alboino finally managed to enter the city, on the Easter Eve in 572.
While he was deciding the fate of Pavia, in front of his throne, located in the churchyard of the church, came to talk with him an old craftsman with sweet breads in the shape of a dove: “Sire, I will offer this tribute as doves of peace in the days of Easter. ” He tasted the breads and he found it so good he was pushed to a promise:” In honour of these doves, I will respect the city and its people.
The creation of the dove Easter is also linked to another legend, going back to the battle of Legnano (1176), which was won by the Lombard League of Municipalities against Frederick Barbarossa.
The idea of the cake was created by one leader of Carroccio, who wanted to have sweet bread in the shape of doves as a tribute to the three white birds, that during the battle were placed, as a protection, on their flags.
The first ingredient of this sweet Easter were very simple: eggs, flour and yeast.
The dove became a symbol of the sweet Italian Easter in the early decades of the twentieth century, when the company Motta decided to launch on the market a cake similar to the in the shape of a dove covered with a frosting made of sugar, pasta with almonds and amaretto.
The great popularity came in 1930, when the company commissioned to Cassandre, Milan artist specialized in advertising posters, a drawing that showed a dove on the slogan: ” Motta Easter Dove, the cake that tastes of Spring“. Since then many variations have flourished, enriched with cream and various fillings or with almonds and candied fruit.
600 grams of white flour;
250 grams of butter;
150 grams of candied peel of citron;
160 grams of sugar;
100 grams of milk;
25 grams of brewer’s yeast;
50 grams of almonds;
30 grams of coarse sugar;
5 eggs (1 whole egg and 4 yolks);
Mix 200 grams of flour with the yeast dissolved in warm water and formed a stick of the right consistency. Put it in a container of warm water after having made two cross-cuts with a sharp knife. Cover with a lid until the cake, leavened, it will float.
Pour on a plain 300 grams of flour, half a tablespoon of salt and the grated lemon peel. Mix well, shape a hole in the center and place there 150 grams of sugar, 4 egg yolks and 125 grams of softened butter. Mix all adding warm milk. When the dough is firm, add the cake leavened and drained. Work it and make it a ball. leave it in a floured bowl. When it will be increased by one third, put it on the plain, add 40 grams of softened butter and work it for 10 minutes. Put the dough again to rise until it has doubled the volume.
Work it again adding more butter and bits of candied citron, beating the dough vigorously for 10 minutes. Then divide it into two parts: one for the body of the dove, the other for the wings. Cover the dough with a floured cloth and allow to rise again. Once ready, put it on the plate, wet it with beaten egg ans add the almonds and sugar in grain.
Bake at 190 °, but after 10 minutes get the down at 180 ° covering the dough with a sheet of parchment paper butter. Let cook for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and let it cool.