Monday, 17 March 2008

baking challenge for easter

It's Easter next weekend. Can you believe it?? The daffodils aren't even properly out yet, well not in Scotland at least. I heard somewhere that Easter hasn't been this early since the 1930s and won't be again for another 150 years or so.

I've been hatching a plan to make traditional bread from northern Italy called Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove), and I thought why not throw an invite out there and try to get a bake-along going. It's similar to the more well known Panettone which is eaten at Christmas - quite rich and sweet bread with candied peel and almonds. The main difference as far as I can tell is the lack of raisins, and also the shape: colomba is dove shaped, although all the pictures look more like a cross to me.

The recipe I'll be using is here. It's a bit daunting at first becuase there are a lot of steps for rising (including an overnight one!!) but the actual amount of attention you need to give it is not so huge. Is anyone up for the challenge? Andy K - I know you can do it, cookies were good but time to take it to the next level :) Jane, yours would be more the size of an eagle than a dove thanks to the superhot incubation temperatures down there. Let's see it! What about our Italians? Anyone else?? It makes a great gift, which is a handy thing because that is the theme for this month's Sugar High Friday.

Send me pics of your easter baking before Tues 25th and I'll put them up next week. I'll also accept Easter-related baking from other nations if you don't fancy the colomba, I'm rather partial to a hot cross bun too!

If you want to do some home made candied peel, you'll need to get going this week so it has a few days to dry out before baking with it. Yesterday I juiced 6 oranges and 4 or 5 lemons, then put the skins in large pans of cold water and boiled for 10 mins. (I froze the juice and will probably use it to make sorbet next weekend with the spare eggwhites the colomba will create). They were drained, refilled with cold water then the process repeated 6 times in total. I then scooped out the mushy membranes from inside, sliced the peel and simmered it in a 2:1 water:sugar mixture for 2 - 2.5 hours until kind of translucent. The remaining liquid at this point is very thick and sticky, and there isn't much left. Allow to rest for a minute or two then quickly spread the peel onto cooling racks before the syrup gets too cool and gloopy. Air dry overnight, then toss in sugar and leave to try for several more days, turning occasionally. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge, lasts for months and months if you can resist eating it all.


jane said...

Nice one Louise. I'm definitely in! I'll try and come up with something creative but you have set a pretty high benchmark with your homemade candied peel!

Manoute said...

I'm in as well. I'll do something French. In France it is mainly chocolate, eggs, lamb and rabbit at easter. But I found a recipe for a "fougasse" so I might go for it. Candied peel dipped into chocolate are really good as well.

Di said...

Hmm - sounds like it may take a while!! I have a lovely Colomba at home that I bought in TK Maxx - guess that doesn't count!!