Italian Dove Bread

Makes: 1 large loaf; serves about 12/ Preparation time (active): 1 hour

Total time: 4 hours

FOR DOUGH:

1/2 cup milk, warmed

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

3 eggs

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 orange

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons instant or fast-acting yeast

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

1 cup candied orange or citron peel (or other dried fruit)

FOR DECORATIONS:

1 egg, separated

1/2 cup almond paste

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Whole almonds

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the milk, sugar, honey, eggs and both zests. Turn the mixer on low, then add the salt, flour and yeast. Mix until the dough comes together, then knead the dough on the mixer's low setting until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue kneading, allowing each piece to be fully incorporated before adding the next. Mix in the candied peel. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the decorations. In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolk (reserve the white), almond paste, flour and almond extract. Once mixed, use your hands to knead the mixture until smooth. Roll the mixture into about 25 to 30 marble-sized balls.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half.

Roll one half into a log about 12 inches long and place on the prepared baking sheet (this will become the wings). Using the heel of your hand, gently flatten the center of the log.

Form the other half of the dough into a triangle, about 15 inches long and 6 inches wide at the base. Place the triangle over the log so that the wide end extends 4 inches below the log and the pointed end 7 inches above. Bend about 3 inches of the pointed end to one side to represent the head and beak.

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the edges of the wings and the bottom of the tail (the wide end of the triangle) to create feathers.

In a small bowl, beat the reserved egg white until foamy. Use a brush to paint the egg white over the surface of the dove. Decorate the dove with the balls of almond dough, pressing them into the wings, tail and chest of the bird, as well as using 1 ball for the eye. Repeat with the whole almonds, gently pressing them into the surface of the dough (see photo).

Loosely cover the dough with a kitchen towel and allow to rise again until puffy and about doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Toward the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 325 F.

Bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes.