Colomba di Pasqua Durazzanese - Traditional Easter Cake from my Mom’s town in Southern Italy!
Easter, or "Pasqua" in Italian has always been one of my favorite holidays for so many different reasons - the colors, the festivities, the gathering of family and friends and the traditions. Pasqualina means "a child of Easter" and I was named after my Nonna.
It's almost Easter and I wanted to share one of my very favorite family recipes that originated in my mom's town, Durazzano and decided to transform this delectable treat into a gluten free alternative. After many attempts, it think I finally got it!
This traditional Colomba is delicious all on its own, especially with coffee or tea in the morning, but it can be served with toppings such as the traditional glaze with sprinkles, dark chocolate and fresh berries (in season) or whipped cream.
Below you will find the recipe. Proofing for this cake takes some time, between 8 and up to 24 hours so plan accordingly:
1 lemon zest
2 orange zest + juice of 1 orange
1/2 c milk (I used almond milk)
1 packet of instant yeast
300 g sugar
75 g organic vegetable shortening
10 eggs, room temperature
75 g butter, melted and cooled
2 vanillina (Italian Vanilla Powder - you can sub with 2 teaspoons of vanilla)
1 shot anice liquor (you can use Strega, limoncello or orange flavored liquor)
1 kg flour (use your favorite Gluten Free Mix - below is the combination I used)
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum (omit if you use a GF mix that already contains it)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of sea salt
Ingredients for the Glaze: (Traditional but optional)
1 egg white
125 grams powdered sugar
3 drops of lemon juice
Directions for cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Butter and flour a 12 inch cake pan.
Zest lemon, orange and juice orange. Set aside.
Mix tepid milk and yeast plus pinch of salt - set aside.
Using a stand up mixer with paddle attachment, mix sugar and shortening for about 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add eggs and mix well. Add butter and mix about 10-15 min. Add orange zest, lemon zest, orange juice, vanilla, anice liquor and mix well. Add milk with yeast and mix well.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
Slowly add flour to the mix to the wet ingredients brushing down the sides of the bowl - dough should be elastic and sticky. Mix for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Place dough in the prepared cake pan and cover with plastic. Proof until double in size. This process takes some time - minimum of 4 hours. Sometimes, it could take an entire day to rise.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Let it cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the cake pan. Completely cool between 2 to 3 hours before adding toppings.
Directions for Glaze:
In a large bowl, add egg white, powdered sugar and lemon juice and whisk well.
Spread the glaze over the Colomba and add your favorite sprinkles. Let it dry for about an hour.
Gluten Free Flour Mixture:
24 ounces (4 1/2 cups + 1/3 cup) white rice flour
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
7 ounces (1 1/3 cup) potato starch
3 ounces (3/4 cup) tapioca starch
3/4 ounce (3 tablespoons) psyllium husk