Usually, every classic dish has many variations. Colomba Pasquale without yeast is a quick and easy “close relative” of the famous Italian Easter cake and I’m sure it will pleasantly surprise you
History of traditional Italian Easter bread
If Panettone or Pandoro decorates every Italian table for Christmas, then Colomba is a must for Easter. This sonorous name is given to a delicious tender cake with candied orange fruits, generously decorated with almonds and crispy pearl sugar. (Not to be confused with Lieutenant Columbo from the series of the same name Yes, he was a sweet tooth, but he has nothing to do with the name of this pastry). Everything is very simple: “Colomba” means “dove” in Italian, hence the name and characteristic form of this cake. A white dove with an olive twig is nestled comfortably among the painted eggs, lambs, rabbits, and other Easter decorations. And no wonder, it symbolizes peace, and on the day of resurrection of Jesus, it fills our hearts with inner peace and brings happiness to our homes like never before.
In the case of Colomba cake (as with almost all classic dishes) it’s impossible to do without a legend… It all happened a long time ago, back in the Middle Ages: after the Lombard king Alboin conquered the Italian city of Pavia, he demanded precious stones, gold, and 12 young girls as Easter gifts from the nobility. On this festive day, the court cook prepared a sweet dove-shaped cake for the king, which resembled the decorations of Pavia’s main cathedral. The king tasted the cake and liked it so much that from that day on he decided to give special respect to doves. When it was time for the gifts and the young girls presented themselves to the king, at his request to know the name of the first girl, she answered “Dove”. All the other girls responded in the same way, and to keep his word, the king set them free. From that day on, the dove became a symbol of peace and unity.
The classic Italian Easter bread Colomba is carefully kneaded with sourdough, then it is left to rise overnight or longer, then kneaded again, allowed to rise, and only after you can start baking it. The effort is not in vain at all, because it just melts in your mouth!
Soon, I will certainly share the classic Colomba recipe, but today I’m going to tell you about a quick version of this Italian Easter cake. It is a yeast-free and sourdough-free relative of the Italian Colomba Pasquale. The quick and easy cooking process will pleasantly surprise you (and if you are also a happy owner of a planetary mixer, then you can completely relax).
The classic Colomba cake and its quick version are like two sisters, very similar, but each has its own character and uniqueness. The amazing orange – almond taste and aroma of the quick version of this pastry confirm its belonging to the classic Colomba recipe family, and the structure of the dough resembles something between a cupcake and a yeast dough cake.
I don’t know what kind of Colomba cake the Lombard king liked so much, but I’m sure that its quick version would not leave him indifferent, either.
Ingredients for Italian Easter cake:
- butter (melt it and cool it a little)
- baking powder
- grated zest of lemon
- grated zest of orange
- candied orange peel
- almond essence (optional, but it gives a flavor and aroma typical of a classic Colomba)
- almonds and pearl sugar for decoration
How to make Italian Easter bread
Beat the eggs and sugar until white (I beat with a mixer at maximum power for about 10 minutes).
Add sifted flour, baking powder, vanilla and beat again.
Add melted, cooled butter, and mix well.
Now it remains to add candied fruit, grated orange, lemon zest and essence. Mix everything well again
Transfer the dough to the baking form. Decorate the top with pearl sugar sprinkles and almonds
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and bake Colomba Pasquale for 30-45 minutes (check readiness with a toothpick).
Surprise your guests and have happy holidays
This is what Italian Easter bread (without yeast) looks like inside
Italian Easter cake (Colomba Pasquale without yeast)
- 5 eggs
- 2 ½ cups (400 g) flour
- 1 + ¼ cup (270 g) sugar
- ½ cup + 2 Tbsp (135 g) butter (melt it and cool it a little)
- 1 Tbsp (15 g) baking powder
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 5 oz (140 g) candied orange peel
- ¼ tsp. almond essence (optional, but it gives a flavor and aroma typical of a classic Colomba)
- almonds and pearl sugar for decoration
- Beat the eggs and sugar until white (I beat with a mixer at maximum power for about 10 minutes).:)
- Add sifted flour, baking powder, vanilla and beat again.
- Add melted, cooled butter, and mix well.
- Now it remains to add candied fruit, grated orange, lemon zest and essence. Mix everything well again
- Transfer the dough to the baking form. Decorate the top with pearl sugar sprinkles and almonds
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and bake Colomba for 30-45 minutes (check readiness with a toothpick).