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The Easter Dove recipe

The Easter Dove: the typical Easter dessert

The dove is, together with the chocolate egg, an inevitable dessert on the tables of all Italians on Easter Day, a symbol of peace and prosperity.

Although its origin is quite recent, there are many legends linked to this cake and all set in today’s Lombardy.

History and curiosity about the Easter Dove

The first legend is linked to the Irish monk Columbanus who around 610 was invited by Queen Teodolinda to Pavia. The latter offered to the monk game and libation which were however refused by the monk because in the period of Lent. Theodolina and her husband Agilulfo considered this refusal a personal offence and Columbanus, at that point, blessed the game and turned it into doves of bread.

For the second legend it is necessary to go back to 572, to the time of King Alboin and the siege of Pavia. The latter after three years of siege succeeded in entering the city and the people of Pavia, to avoid the Germanic fury, gave dove-shaped cakes as a gesture of peace. It seems that this gesture prevented the plundering of Pavia.

The third and last legend is linked to the battle of Legnano (1176) between the Lombard League and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. A commander saw doves bravely resting on the insignia of the league, regardless of the imminent battle. In order to instill the same courage in the soldiers, he ordered the cooks to make dove-shaped bread.

As suggestive as these legends are, the reality is quite different.

The dove was, in fact, born only in the 1930s in Milan thanks to Dino Villani, at the time advertising director of Motta, a leading company in the production of Christmas panettone. The idea of the dove originated from the need to use the same production machinery employed in the production of panettone also for a new Easter cake in order to keep the production activity going. Thus was born the Easter dove!

From that moment on, the Dove became a must on the tables of Italians during the Easter period, which over time resulted in many different variations.

Today we propose tu.cuoche’s recipe to make your Easter dove directly at home!

The Easter Dove recipe

Easter Dove Recipe


(For 1 kg mould)

For the starter dough

  • 50 g of manitoba flour
  • 50 ml of milk
  • 15 g fresh brewer’s yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

For the first dough

  • Starter dough
  • 225 g manitoba flour
  • 100 ml of water
  • 1 egg
  • 40 g of sugar
  • 40 g butter

For the second dough

  • first dough
  • 225 g manitoba flour
  • 120 g of sugar
  • 1 egg and one yolk
  • 60 g of butter
  • a vial with vanilla aroma
  • 125 g of chocolate chips
  • grated rind of an orange
  • a pinch of salt

For the icing

  • 50 g of peeled almonds
  • 100 g of icing sugar
  • 1 albumen
  • grain of sugar
  • peeled and shelled almonds


Prepare the starter dough.

Put the manitoba flour in a container with a spoonful of sugar, dissolve the brewer’s yeast in the warm milk and add it to the flour stirring. Cover with plastic wrap and wait until the volume has doubled.

Prepare the first dough.

Add to the starter dough (now doubled in volume) the sugar, the egg and then alternate the flour with the water, finally add the soft butter in flakes.

Knead the mixture by hand or with a whisk and then put it in the same bowl covered with transparent film and let it rise until the dough has doubled in volume.

Prepare the second dough.

When the dough has risen well, add the sugar, one egg and one yolk (the egg white should be preserved) and all the flour. Knead until the flour is well absorbed and add the aroma of vanilla and the grated rind of an orange.
Continuing to knead, add the soft butter and a pinch of salt. Add candied fruit or chocolate chips of your choice. Cover the dough again with transparent film and let it rise until the volume doubles.

Transfer the well leavened dough onto a work surface and divide it in half forming two strands that you will insert into the 1 kg mould.

Flatten the dough with your hands trying to level it. Let the dough rise until it reaches the edge of the mould and no further!

Prepare the almond icing.

Blend the peeled almonds and icing sugar, then add the egg white kept aside. Brush the dove with the icing. Add the whole almonds (both peeled and unpeeled) and finally the sugar grains.

Bake in a static oven preheated to 170 degrees for about 50 minutes (test the toothpick to evaluate the cooking).

Your dove is ready to be enjoyed!

For more Easter recipes, don’t miss our article on Italian Easter lunch!