Italian Easter Colomba (with sourdough)

In Italy, each region has its own traditions and typical sweets for Easter. However, the Colomba Pasquale is the most popular across the country.

It is leavened sweet, flavored with citrus, almond and vanilla. Traditionally, the dough includes also candied orange. But nowadays you can substitute them with chocolate chips, or you can keep it simple. The amazing scent of citrus and vanilla would still carry you away at the first bite!

This recipe is made with sourdough. It is a longer process than the one with commercial yeast. But the result would be significantly better, both it terms of texture and taste.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe 🙂

P.S. you can find recipe and method to obtain the sourdough here.

Italian Easter Colomba (with sourdough)
  • DifficultyVery difficult
  • CostCheap
  • Preparation time2 Days
  • Cooking time1 Hour
  • Servingmakes 1 kg Colomba
  • Cooking methodOven
  • CuisineItalian


For the first dough

  • 500 gmanitoba flour (or white flour type 0)
  • 350 grefreshed active sourdough
  • 200 mlwhole milk
  • 180 glight muscovado brown sugar
  • 70 gpure butter
  • 2egg yolk
  • 1egg

For the second dough

  • 70 gpure butter
  • 2 spoonsmanitoba flour (or white flour type 0)
  • 1 spoonorange blossom honey
  • 1organic orange (zest only)
  • 1organic lemon (zest only)
  • 1vanilla pod
  • 1egg yolk
  • 125 gcubed candied orange (if you do not like you can omit this)

For the frosting

  • 120 gicing sugar
  • 30crushed hazelnut
  • 20 gground almond
  • 20 gcorn starch
  • 3egg white

For the topping

  • 150 gsugar grains
  • 20 dropsalmonds


For the first dough

  1. – refresh the sourdough the evening before you want to start making the first dough, or at least 8 hours in advance, by following the instructions here;

    – the sourdough should have doubled its size: now take 350g away from it for the colomba dough, and store the remaining sourdough for the next time you will wish to bake something else;

    – melt the sourdough into the lukewarm milk;

    – add all the ingredients for the first dough (except for the flour) and mix with your hands till you amalgamate everything together;

    – sift the flour onto it and start kneading till you get a ball of dough;

    – transfer the dough onto a flour-dusted working surface and knead as follow: fold the dough in half and rock forward on the heels of your hands to press it flat, turn the dough slightly, fold it in half, and rock into it again with the heels of your hands. Do this for about 30 seconds, then take the dough and smash it against the surface a couple of time. Alternate the kneading and the smashing for at least 10 minutes;

    – transfer the dough into a large bowl, cover it with kitchen towel and put it to rest in a warm place, away from air drafts (i.e. the switched off oven);

    – after 8-12 hours your dough should have doubled its size;

For the second dough

  1. – put the honey, the grated citrus zests and the vanilla seeds into a bowl;

    – set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water till honey melts, and mix everything together until smooth;

    – take another bowl and put the butter into it and melt it with the same above procedure you used for the scented honey;

    – take the dough and add the scented honey, melted butter and the egg;

    – mix everything together till they are absorbed in the dough;

    – add the flour and knead quickly to make the dough smooth again;

    – cut it in a half to obtain 2 separate balls of dough which you will work separately, but with the same procedure, as follow;

    – grease with some oil the the working surface and place the first ball of dough onto it, flat it with your fingers to shape it into a rectangle;

    – proceed to the first fold as follow: fold the longer side towards the center, and then fold the other free side towards the center too. You have obtained a cylinder. Fold one side of the cylinder towards the center and then fold the other side over it. This first fold is completed;

    – now proceed to the second fold as follow: flat again the dough with your fingers to shape it again into a rectangle, then repeat the same procedure as above;

    – take this first cylinder and place it onto the Colomba baking tray;

    – repeat the folding process for the other ball of dough;

    – take this second cylinder and place it onto the Colomba baking tray, crossing the first one;

    – cover your Colomba with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest in warm place, away from air drafts (i.e. the switched off oven) for about 4/6 hours;

To make the frosting

  1. – put all the ingredients, except the egg whites, in a food processor;

    – grind everything together;

    – pour the ground mixture onto a bowl, add the egg whites and mix well till you get a spreadable paste;

To bake the Colomba

  1. – after its final rest, the dough should fill the baking tray, where it was resting, for at least 2/3;

    – spread the frosting onto the Colomba;

    – top it with the almonds and the sugar grains;

    – bake at 170 degrees for 60 minutes or till golden brown;

    – use apposite skewers (or pins or hangers) to hold your Colomba, straight from the oven, upside down for suspension: while it cools, this will prevent it from sinking, and allow it to retain its full volume.

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4 Replies to “Italian Easter Colomba (with sourdough)”

  1. Just Amazing! I made this today as I’m a huge sourdough fan, plus I’ve got a bit of a gluten intolerance, so to make this was a really testing my skills, and boy! oh boy!
    The taste texture and topping was nothing less than perfection! Thank you!

  2. Hi there,
    What hydration is your sourdough starter? I keep mine at 50%, but recipes are often for 100% like a polish.


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