Colomba Pasquale – Gluten Free Easter Dove Bread

Gluten Free Colomba Pasquale

We converted a traditional recipe from the folks at King Arthur Flour to GF, so everyone can celebrate with Gluten Free Colomba Pasquale!

While Italy offers many traditional Easter breads, the best-known by far is Colomba Pasquale, Easter dove bread, a native of Lombardy in the north, but available everywhere when Easter rolls around. Even in America one can find these panettone-like breads in their paper “dove” pans around the Easter holidays.


Biga (overnight starter)

  • 1 cup favorite Gluten Free Flour Blend (blends including bean flours not recommended)
  • 1/2 cup cool water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast


  • 2 1/4 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons SAF Gold instant yeast, or high quality instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your Gluten Free Flour blend already contains xanthan gum)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved for topping; room temperature preferred
  • 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract +1/8 teaspoon orange oil
  • grated peel of 1 large orange
  • 1 cup dried fruit of your choice, chopped if large


  • 1 large egg white, reserved from dough
  • 3 tablespoons almond flour or 3 tablespoons blanched almonds, finely ground
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 5 to 6 teaspoons tablespoons coarse white sugar or pearl sugar


1) The night before you want to make the bread, mix together the biga (overnight starter) ingredients. Cover the bowl, and leave it at room temperature for up to 15 hours or so.

2) Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all of the remaining dough ingredients except the grated orange rind and the fruit. Mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 12 minutes at medium speed, stopping the mixer every 3 minutes to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. By the end of the kneading time, the dough should have become elastic and satiny. It should be starting to leave the bottom and sides of the bowl, though it won’t form a smooth ball.

3) Knead in the grated orange rind and dried fruit.

4) Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 2 hours (3 hours if you’re not using SAF Gold yeast). It should have become quite puffy.

5) Divide the dough in two pieces, with one slightly larger than the other. Shape one into a 10″ log, with one tapered end; and the other into a 7″ log.

6) Place the longest log lengthwise on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet; use the edge of your hand to form a crease in the center. Lay the shorter log crosswise across it, right at the crease. Shape the shorter log into “wings” by pulling it into a crescent shape. (We know, this doesn’t really look too awfully much like a dove; think of it as a symbolic representation!) Or, purchase a Colomba paper mold at a baking supply store, and place the dough evenly inside.

7) Cover the shaped loaf with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it’s puffy; this will take about 1 to 2 hours, depending on what type of yeast you’ve used. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

8) Make the topping by mixing the egg white, ground almonds, and sugar. Gently paint this glaze all over the loaf; be generous. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds, then the pearl or coarse sugar.

9) Bake the loaf for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it for the final 10 minutes of baking. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F.

10) Remove the bread from the oven, and carefully slide it onto a rack to cool.

11) Serve in thin slices. Some enjoy fresh Colomba with a glass of wine; some prefer it toasted, then drizzled with heavy cream or honey, and served with coffee. It’s delicious just plain, too; serve it Easter morning, or later in the day, as a sweet accompaniment to the Easter ham.

Recipe Conversion from an original from King Arthur Flour, Photo Credit King Arthur Flour

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