Gluten Free Easter Cake – Colomba Pasquale – Italian Dove Bread

This gluten free Colomba recipe may be served as a sweet bread on Easter with ham or at breakfast or brunch. It is an Italian tradition. You may form it into its traditional dove shape by using paper molds or use a standard ring baking pan as I did. This bread is tender and not as sweet as cake, but sweeter than bread. Make it with dairy or dairy-free. Add your choice of dried or glazed fruit. It’s simply delicious! It’s a little like a bear claw pastry. Happy Easter!

Since this bread is partially a cake due to its sugar content (some have tons of butter as well), I thought I’d experiment by using some of my all-purpose gluten-free flour recipe as well as traditional dry ingredients such as the ones I used in my Gluten Free Panettone Recipe.

This recipe was converted using King Arthur’s Colomba, Italian Easter Bread Recipe.

Gluten Free Easter Cake – Colomba Pasquale – Italian Dove Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 9 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: Yield: 1 gluten-free Colomba loaf.

Gluten Free Easter Cake – Colomba Pasquale – Italian Dove Bread

If you enjoy dessert-type bread, you'll love this gluten free Colomba Pasquale. It's similar to a yeast-raised coffee cake, but taste more like a bear claw pastry. It's perfect for Easter breakfast or brunch.


    For the Overnight Starter:
  • 1 cup Carla's Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend recipe
  • 1 cup room temperature water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast (SAF)
  • For the Dough:
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup (or a less*) granulated sugar (I used superfine)
  • 1/4 cup non-fat dry milk (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (SAF)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (Rumford)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or Earth Balance Baking Sticks), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup almond paste** (SOLO®D)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Grated peel of 1 large orange (optional)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used diced Royal Harvest® Pink Blush Maraschino Cherries)
  • For the Almond Egg Wash:
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons blanched almond flour (Dowd & Rogers), or ground blanched almonds
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds


  1. Oil a 9 to 10-inch round bundt cake mold (silicone or metal) and set aside. If you're using a silicone mold, place it on a baking sheet. Alternatively, set a dove bread paper mold on a baking sheet.
  2. The night before you want to bake your gluten free Colomba bread, combine the starter ingredients in a large bowl, Stir until thoroughly combined. Cover with a tea towel and place in a cold oven overnight.
  3. The following day, stir the starter to ensure it is a little fluffy/has holes in the batter. If so, it's ready to go. If not, leave it covered until it does, up to 24 hours.
  4. Add the dry ingredients (first nine dough ingredients) to the large bowl of your mixer and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the butter, almond paste, eggs, honey, vinegar, extract, and orange peel, if using. Beat on medium speed using the whisk attachment for 10 minutes.
  6. Fold in the fruit using a silicone/rubber spatula.
  7. Pour into the prepared pan or paper mold.
  8. Turn the oven to 170 or 200ºF (lowest possible) and place the pan in the oven. Turn it off after 2 minutes and allow the cake/bread to rise for about 50 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and preheat to 375ºF.
  10. While the oven preheats, mix together the egg white and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the almond flour.
  11. Bake for at least 15 minutes.
  12. Then reduce the heat to 350ºF. Generously baste the top of the dough with the egg wash, and sprinkle slices of almond on top. Return it to the oven and tent with foil. Minimally, cover the edges with foil or a silicone pie ring protector. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.
  13. Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a wire rack. Place another wire rack on top and invert it. Remove the pan and reinvert it onto the original rack. Allow to cool before covering.
  14. Serve while still warm or allow to cool completely, and store covered for up to one day. Otherwise, slice and freeze on a baking sheet. Then store in a gallon-size zipper storage bags.


*You may cut the sugar back to 1/4 cup or even 3 tablespoons, but note that the more you cut it back, the less cake-like it will be. If you use 1 tablespoon, it will be very close to the texture of bread.

**While I love almond everything, you may not. If you prefer, omit the almond paste and replace with 2 tablespoons additional butter.

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