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Classic Italian Dove Cake for Easter with Variations

Dove Symbols Come in Many Varieties

You can even create your own images for this cake.

You can even create your own images for this cake.

Italian Culinary Traditions for Easter: Colomba di Pasqua

The Easter Dove Cake is an Italian tradition that provides either a cake in the shape of a dove, or round layers that have images of doves on the cake tops. Traditionally, it is said that the cake originated in the Milan area and most often, shaped like a dove to represent the Holy Spirit.

The symbol above is interesting and fun, because it represents the dove's wings and the concept of an angel with a halo. Youngsters should like it very much and may want to help decorate your cakes.

The recipe for decorated layers instead of a dove shape is listed below, saving time and still providing the dove image in a good tasting cake. The flavor is a fruity blend that is light and much like a fruitcake. The dove cake is one of a series of Italian holiday cakes used at Christmas and Easter Holidays.

The layer cakes are easy - you bake two layers and decorate each with a dove image and you can use square pans if you prefer them to round pans. This is a recipe that you can use for your own creative expression. In fact, some cooks bake a square or rectangular single layer and place a decorative paper dove on the plate with it.

Milan, Northern Italy

Easter Dove Cake Recipe


  • Baking parchment paper for drawing Dove Outlines of your choice.
  • Nontoxic materials for drawing.
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 6 oz hot milk or cream (not scalded)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk (save the white for another recipe)
  • 4 oz powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 medium orange
  • Grated zest of 1 a large lemon
  • 2 and 1/2 oz golden raisins
  • 2 and 1/2 oz mixed candied fruit peels
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • 4 oz whole, blanched almonds


  • To a medium mixing bowl, add the hot milk or cream and then the yeast, stir, and let sit 10-15 minutes, until frothy in consistency.
  • Stir in ½ cup of the flour well, then cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

A Stylized Dove Outline

Print and copy onto the cake top, if you like.

Print and copy onto the cake top, if you like.

Easter Dove Cake

  • In a larger mixing bowl, melt the butter and remove form the cook top to cool.
  • Whisk the eggs, the one egg yolk and the sugar together well.
  • Now, whisk in the butter that has cooled.
  • Whisk in the salt, vanilla, orange zest, and lemon zest.
  • Add the remaining flour and mix together.
  • Uncover the yeast mixture and beat it into the flour dough until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add the raisins, saving 2 for decoration, and add the candied peel. Mix
  • Place the dough into a large greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let his sit on the counter until doubled in size (1 ½ to 2 hours).
  • On 2 sheets of baking parchment, draw or trace the outlines of a dove.
  • Take two baking pans and line with the parchment drawings.
  • Turn the cake dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter and knead it for 2-3 minutes.
  • Cut this dough into two equal pieces and make each into the shape of a dove by putting each cake onto a pan with a parchment drawing and shaping the cake to the outline.
  • Place one raisin on the face of each dove to make an eye.
  • Cover each dove with a clean towel and permit to rise for one hour on the counter, or until doubled in size.
  • Place almonds long the surfaces of the cakes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  • Place the cakes into the hot oven for 15-18 minutes, or until just golden brown and a knife blade comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each cake.
  • Remove the cakes and place the cake pans onto a cooling rack until cool to the touch.
  • Turn out the cakes onto two plates.
  • Draw dove images on cake tops with non-toxic materials, like a tube of cake icing. Alternatively, draw images on parchment paper before you begin mixing the cake - by the time it is baked, the images will be dried and easily slide-able onto the cake tops. You might also think of cutting a template of an image in the parchment paper, laying the template over the plate, and dusting powdered sugar into the image made by the hole that is shaped like your dove.
  • Dust cakes overall with powdered sugar after cake-icing images are transferred to the cake tops, if desired, before serving (serves 12)

Please rate this cake.

Casting Crowns - White Dove Fly High; North Korean Tour

Folding an Origami Peace Dove

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


Vondre from Columbia, SC on May 18, 2008:

Just a quick note of thanks for the beautiful cake and it was delicious and admired by all. I will indeed pass on your name to anyone who needs this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing..

Well, I too have a cake related hub page as well. Just click on my picture to check it out when you have time

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Happy Baking!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 20, 2008:

Thanks, it tastes very good - the golden raisins are a good flavor in this cake/bread.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 18, 2008:

Thanks, evryone for the nice comments.

The Dove Cale can come out looking clunky, but it can be different - more streamlines, or however you want it really. Make any figure you want.

I was hoping this Hub would be enjoyable. Thanks again.


Marye Audet on March 17, 2008:

VERY cool.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on March 17, 2008:

Patty! what a nice hub. Thank you so much for sharing. regards Zsuzsy

Bonnie Ramsey from United States on March 17, 2008:


Great hub as usual! And I have always loved Casting Crowns. This video is so powerful and certainly no surprise given their performance record of the past. I am definitely saving this one! Thanks for sharing a very inspring hub and video!


Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on March 17, 2008:

That looks great, and good videos too. thanks for sharing.

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