Italian Easter Dove
3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 package RapidRise or fast-acting yeast
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 1 percent milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, cut up (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup water (70 to 80 degrees F)
1/2 cup almond paste (3-1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 whole clove
To make dough: In large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar,
undissolved yeast, lemon zest and salt.
Heat milk, butter and water until very warm (120 to 130 degrees F);
stir into dry ingredients. Stir in 2 eggs and enough remaining flour
to make soft dough.
Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5
to 7 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
To make topping: Combine almond paste, flour and egg yolk (reserve
egg white); knead 5 to 6 times or until smooth. Form into 1/2-inch
balls; set aside.
To shape and bake dough: Divide bread dough in half. For wings, roll
1 half into 10 x 5-inch oval. Arrange in center of greased large
baking sheet, curving ends downward.
For body, roll remaining half of dough into a triangle 15 inches
high and 6 inches wide (at base); place on center of oval. Fold over
top third of triangle from left to right; shape to form dove head.
Fold over bottom third of triangle from right to left to form tail.
With sharp knife, slash wings and tail at 1-inch intervals to form
Lightly beat reserved egg white; brush on dough. Arrange
almond-paste balls, 1/2 inch apart, on body, tail and wings. Press 1
slivered almond into each ball. Press clove into head for eye.
Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size,
about 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until
done. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.
Bread machine method: (For 1 1/2 and 2 pound bread machines.) Using
3 1/4 cups bread flour and 2 teaspoons rapid-rise or fast-acting
yeast, add ingredients into bread machine pan in the order suggested
by manufacturer. Process on dough/manual cycle.
When cycle is complete, remove dough to floured surface. If
necessary, knead in additional flour to make dough easy to handle.
Proceed as directed above to make topping and shape and bake dough.
Makes 1 loaf
Note: Italians celebrate holidays with specialty
flavored breads baked in unique shapes. This rich and tender loaf,
molded into a dove and decorated with balls of sweet almond paste,
graces Italian tables at Easter as a symbol of peace.