Here's one for you. It is NOT mine but copied....They cost so much less here that it's hardly worth all the trouble - unlike in the UK (don't know about elsewhere) where I know they cost 'an arm and a leg'!
The origins of the Colomba
The Colomba is a symbol of Easter, but a tradition born on industrial demand and diffused in all of Italy. In the early 1900s the Milanese company "Motta" decided to make a product similar to the panettone, but with an aspect decidedly connected to Easter. The Colomba was born - a dessert cake with a similar composition to the panettone, but that is enriched with the flavour of amaretto. In 1930, the Motta Company requested an artist specialized in public adverts, and produced the slogan "The Easter Columba by Motta, the dessert that knows of springtime." In realty, the Colomba has very old roots, way into the second half of the sixth century in which it was offered to "Alboino" the king of the Longobardi, (who happened to be harassing the city of Pavia) a yeast bread formed into the shape of a donut. Although the ingredients weren't very rich (egg, flour and yeast), in respects to the ones we have today, in which we use butter, sugar and candied fruits. They must though, add a topping of almonds, and dried fruits. The form of the Colomba (pigeon) was given by a choice made not of its symbolic nature, but also for the season; springtime.
The Easter Holiday all over the world is connected to nature, and was born for this reason; for thanks and offerings. Eggs, vegetables, lamb, chocolate and cakes in the form of a colomba are present in the Italian Home. All these ingredients of the Easter tradition have a worldly story behind them-the chocolate eggs were invented in Torino in the 1800's, as a refined substitute of the traditional exchanging of chicken eggs, that in turn represented the end of fasting.
The Easter Colomba, in respects of the Italian gastronomy and today represents a production of excellence in pastry making. In fact, the Colomba is a delicate dessert cake, it must be soft, aromatic on the outside, and moist on the inside and naturally left to rise one entire night.
The very next day, they make a second dough uniting flour, sugar and egg with some tiny pieces of candied fruits. After 30 minutes of rest it is divided into the appropriate sizes and after four hours of further rising it is covered with almonds, sugar and amaretto. After it is baked, it is left to rest at least seven hours, and then they are packaged.
By Jackelin J.Jarvis
In a small bowl proof 1 envelope active dry yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm milk with 1 teaspoon sugar for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl combine 1 stick or 1/2 cup butter, softened and cut into bits, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind, 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir 1/2 cup scalded milk into the butter mixture and let the mixture cool until it is lukewarm.
Stir in the yeast mixture and 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten.
Gradually beat in 3 cups flour, or enough to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in about 1 1/4 cups more flour for 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and satiny.
Form the dough into a ball, put it into a buttered bowl, turning it to coat it with the butter, and let it rise, covered, in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until it is double in bulk.
Punch down the dough and divide it in half.
Roll out half the dough into an oval about 5 by 11 inches and lay it across the width of a buttered 13- by 15-inch baking sheet.
Roll out the remaining dough into a triangle 5 inches wide at the base and 12 inches long. Arrange the triangle over the oval, forming a cross. Hold the triangle at the center and twist it once, forming the body of the dove.
Pinch in the dough about 3 inches below the tip of the triangle to form the dove's neck and head and elongate the tip to form the beak. With the blunt edge of a knife, score the tail and wings to simulate feathers.
Make an almond paste topping: In a bowl cream together 1/3 cup almond paste, 1 egg white, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Spread the topping over the scored portion of the dove and let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until it is double in bulk.
Brush the surface of the dove with 1 egg white, lightly beaten, and sprinkle the wings with 1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds and 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake the bread in a preheated moderately slow oven (325-F.) for 40 to 45 minutes, or until it is browned. Transfer the bread to a rack and serve it warm.