MAKES 2 BREADS
Colomba is an Easter bread, shaped like a dove. Regional versions are found all over Italy. They may be free-formed by hand or baked in special dove-shaped molds. Some have a cake-like texture, while those made with yeast have the consistency and texture of bread dough. In this version, hard-boiled eggs are nestled in the dough before baking. Place the doves in a colorful basket and use as a centerpiece on your Easter table. They also make a nice Easter gift. These can be frozen once completely cool, but the eggs will not be edible.
6 1/2 to 7 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 large eggs plus 4 hard-boiled large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/4 cups milk, or more as necessary
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 whole cloves
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. On a piece of cardboard, make a template: Draw a dove that is 12 inches long from tail to beak and 7 inches across at its widest point. Cut out the form with scissors.
Sift together 6 1/2 cups flour, the sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together 4 of the eggs, the butter, milk, and vanilla until well combined. Add to the flour mixture and mix with your hands to form a ball of dough that is smooth and no longer sticky, adding more flour if necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth. Divide the dough into 2 pieces.
Roll each piece of dough out into a 13 by 11-inch rectangle and transfer to the cookie sheets. Place the template on each piece of dough and cut around it with a pastry wheel or small sharp knife. Remove the scraps of dough. With scissors, cut small V's in the tails to resemble feathers. Stick 1 clove in each head for the eyes. Place 2 of the hard-boiled eggs side by side in the middle of each dove's body. Cut 4 narrow 6-inch-long strips of dough from the dough scraps and cross 2 of them over each egg.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush the doves with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the colored sprinkles.
Bake the doves for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and firm to the touch. Let them cool slightly on the cookie sheets before removing them to cooling racks.
Note: There is a colored picture of the baked doves nestled in an Easter basket in the cookbook.
This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc. in 1995.
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