Apr 21, 2014

Colomba w/whole spelt

And while my babka was in the oven, I was already working on Colomba (a traditional Italian Easter cake). I fell in love with it last year. I think this Italian love story is going to last...

Colomba (or a dove in English) is like the best Panettone you've ever had, only better.  Nothing dry about it. Very buttery indeed. Delicate as a feather of a dove or another bird.

The recipe is a little more complex and longer than Panettone but only the first time it seems so.

Thanks to this blog and my last year's post, this Easter's Colomba project was easy.

It's called Colomba because, if I were in Italy, I would go to any store and buy a paper baking form that looks like a dove so my cake would look like it too.

Recipe adapted from GialloZafferano
time: about 24 hours, mostly inactive

12 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast
960 ml (4 cups) flour: I used 150 g (1 cup) regular flour and 360 g (3 cups) whole spelt, sifted together
1 teaspoon (5 g) + 180 g (5/6 cup) sugar
180 ml (3/4 cup) whole milk (almond OK), warm (temp. about 30C/86F)
250 g (1 cup) butter, room temperature, soft
5 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
1 vanilla bean, opened and seeds scraped off
zest from 1 lemon
50 ml (3 Tablespoons) honey
6 egg yolks, room temperature
100 g (about 1/2 cup) candied orange, chopped

for icing
80 g (1/2 cup) powder sugar
2 egg whites
80 g (1/2 cup) almond meal
50 g (1/2 cup) almonds, coarsely chopped
50 g (1/2 cup) almonds, whole


Crumble yeast into a medium bowl, adding 50 ml (3 Tablespoons) warm milk1 teaspoon sugar and 160 ml (2/3 cup) flour. Blend it all with your hands, in the bowl. Knead it for a minute, form a ball. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (oven with a light on) for at least 30 minutes.


With your hands, in the same bowl, knead the dough from Faze First, adding 80 ml (1/3 cup) warm milk and 160 ml (2/3 cup)  flour, for about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (oven with a light on) for  30 minutes.


To the dough from Second Faze, add 240 ml (1 cup) flour80 g (1/3 cup) sugar, and remaining milk /50 ml (3 Tablespoons)/. Using a standing mixer with a needle attachment, knead for 15 minutes on "stir". Now, in small doses, add 80 g (5 Tablespoons) soft butterAdding butter and mixing took me 15 minutes. After all the butter is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (oven with light on) for 2 hours.


After two hours, add 5 g salt (1/2 teaspoon)100 g (1/2 cup) sugarvanilla seedszests from lemon and orange50 g (3 Tablespoons) honey, and 6 yolks, alternating with adding remaining flour /320 ml (1 1/3 cups) /. At the end, in small doses, add remaining /170 g (1 3/8 sticks)/ soft butter (20 minutes of mixing). After all the butter is incorporated, add candied orange. Form one mass (scraping the remaining dough from the sides). Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place (oven) for about 12 hours.


Line your baking form: cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to line the form. Crush the paper in your hands (into a small ball), wet it under water, squeeze and shake it (gently). Line the form with the wet and soft parchment paper.  I used my ceramic 11x8x3inch/28x20x8cm dish to bake a cake in.

Transfer dough on rolling board, work it for a minute with between your hands and a plastic scraper. Transfer it onto the form. Keep it in a warm place till it doubles (or so) in size, for about 3 hours.

to prepare the glaze

In a medium bowl, using a fork, beat the egg whites, just a bit (till liquidy but in paler color), and slowly start adding powder sugar and almond mealThe liquid should be thick enough to stay on the dough. If not, add more powder sugar. 

Preheat oven to 200C/400F (static function).

Cover the dough with the glaze, drop almonds and almond pieces on top. Place in the 200C oven for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 180C/350F and bake for another 40-50 minutes. Check if the toothpick from the middle of the cake comes out clean. Take the Colomba out, let it cool for 30 minutes, at least, in the form.  Happy Easter!

  • this year's version looks even better; it has a beautiful crack on top...the dough had a chance to breath;
  • it's 75% whole spelt and it rose even better, the taste didn't change at all;
  • it requires some planing with the timing...so the 12 hour rising period happens while you are sleeping;
  • it's the best to take out and lay out on your countertop all the ingredients at first and then just dozing from what your prepared;
  • and we are all crazy again about that crust on top...


  1. I have some fresh yeast so will try this when we return from the UK :)

  2. Oh wow, this looks lovely! I especially love that you used vanilla bean seeds in it - I love them!

  3. This looks wonderful! I love the thick almond coating on top - it sounds fantastic - great job Ela :) Hope you had a wonderful Easter :)

  4. I love your Colomba look amazing Ela:)

  5. What a lovely Easter tradition, Ela! I saw my first Colomba yesterday on a another friend's blog...and now yours today. What a terrific bread!

  6. Hi Ela, this Colomba looks delicious, love the almond topping. Love traditional foods for the holidays.

  7. This is new to me...it looks beautiful and delicious. Love the nutty topping.

  8. Divine! I hope you had a wonderful Easter.



  9. Never have heard of this bread, Ela, but it looks fabulous!

  10. Oh,Ela! It looks mouthwatering! Well done,dear!
    Kisses from Greece!

  11. I've never heard of Colomba but it looks and sounds delicious!!