Colomba di Pasqua
Offered by Starter Bakery
- • Starter Bakery Farmers’ Market booth (Grand Lake 9am – 2pm; Temescal 9am – 1pm; Montclair 9am – 1pm)on 3/23, 3/24, 3/30 and 3/31.
- • Bi-Rite – Delivery on 3/28 to 18th St. location
- • Pre-order from Starter Bakery (highly recommended). Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org. Orders must be received before 3/25 at noon.
Colomba di Pasqua, also known as Colomba Pasquale, is an Italian celebration bread enjoyed during the Easter holiday. It translates as “Easter Dove” and that is in reference to it’s iconic shape of a dove. Colomba di Pasqua is a very close “relative” to a few other famous Italian Christmas celebration breads: Pannetone and Pan D’Oro. All three of these breads are enriched breads, meaning they have richness coming from eggs, butter and sugar. At a very basic level, these are all regional variations on brioche.
The quality of these breads can vary greatly, just as with any product. At Starter, we use a very traditional recipe and process. Our traditional approach is to make the Colomba di Pasqua using a natural levain (sourdough process). The Bay Area is world famous for its tangy sourdough breads, however there are many ranges of sourdough. The general purpose of sourdough is to generate fermentation and depending on how the sourdough starter is maintained, the “sour” flavor of the final dough can range from barely detectable to very mild to very sour. Colomba di Pasqua is made with a very active starter that limits the level of acidity that we associate with San Francisco sourdough bread or even mild sourdough breads.
The process for our Colomba di Pasqua spans over two days, in addition to starting the starter (which takes about a week). Because the dough is so enriched with butter, egg yolks and sugar, the mixing warrants a time-sensitive process to ensure the dough is properly developed. At the end of mixing, candied orange, vanilla beans and diced almond paste (ground almonds, sugar) and cacao butter is mixed into the dough to provide Colomba di Pasqua’s signature flavors. After mixing, the dough still needs to ferment, be divided and pre-shaped, shaped and then have its final proof. This phase can take upwards of 10 – 12 hours. Just before baking, the dough is topped with a hazelnut glaze, pearl sugar and almonds. After baking, the breads cool and fill the room with aromas of vanilla, orange, almond and hazelnut.
Due to the long and slow fermentation process and since it’s based on a natural levain, Colomba di Pasqua has an amazing flavor, texture and shelf life. Be careful though, once it’s cut into, this bird won’t be around for long.