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.
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
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
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 feathers.
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.
Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Remove
from pan; cool on wire rack.
Yield: 1 loaf
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
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.