Ingredients:20 g fruit40 g plain flour20 ml sparkling water60 g natural leavening sugar100 ml sparkling water1 egg yolk60 g butter200 g plain flour50 g plain flour50 g sugar salt2 egg yolk80 g butter1 g malt175 g candied orange spices10 g acacia honey lemon1 vanilla pod icing100 g almonds6 g bitter almonds240 g sugar1 egg white18 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil1 g bicarbonate of soda
Today, sourdough starter or natural leavening is used in the preparation of cakes and bread that need to rise at length. In the past, it was the only kind of leaving that existed and was regarded as the mother of all baking recipes (in fact, in Italy sourdough starter is called ""pasta madre"", mother dough). Housewives took care of it with reverence, as a nursemaid looks after a child; it was handed down from family to family and gradually ""refreshed"".
For the “mother dough”
Grate the apple (or mash the other fruit) and, in a bowl, mix with the other ingredients until you have a smooth dough. Cover and leave to rest for approximately 48 hours, at a temperature of 28° C, in a relatively humid environment. You can use your oven, leaving the light on and putting a small bowl of water in it, which will evaporate slowly and constantly. If it is a particularly rainy or humid day, you can do without the water. After 48 hours the dough should have tripled in size and you can now “refresh” the starter by adding a drop of sparkling water. Leave it to rest for a further 4 hours, at 28 °C, and then “squeeze” the excess water out of it. Now the “mother dough” is finally ready for you to prepare the Colomba.
Preparing the first dough
Take the mother dough, gradually add the sparking water and the flour, and knead for about 15 minutes, gradually adding the sugar, until it is firm and compact. Then add the softened butter (at room temperature) and the egg yolk, and knead for another 25 minutes. Cover the dough and leave to rise for 12 hours, at 25 °C, until it has tripled in size again. The dough should be moist, but compact and elastic.
Preparing the second dough
Add the sugar to the dough you prepared before until it is absorbed. Then add the honey, grated peel, vanilla, butter, one egg yolk, salt and malt, kneading continuously. Now add the remaining egg yolk and the candied orange, and continue kneading for about 40 minutes. When you have done all this, put the mixture into a dove-shaped mould (if you don’t have one, you can use a large cake tin) and fill it to just over halfway, because it now has to rise for another 7 hours. If you have a dove-shaped mould, the dough should be divided into three parts: one for the central section and two for the “wings”.
Put the almonds (leaving a few aside) in a food processor with the sugar, egg white, olive oil and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. Blend well for 3 to 4 minutes – you should now be able to spread the mixture with a spoon.
After the dough has risen, distribute the icing mixture and a few whole almonds on top of the Colomba, and bake it in a preheated oven, at 180 °C, for approximately 50 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, leave to “dry out” for a couple of hours…
... and then finally you can take a bite of your work of art!