Colombine di Pasta Forte - Easter Sicilian Specialty
Sicily during Easter is truly special!
Towns celebrate this religious occasion through a mystique union of pagan and Christian rituals, centuries-old statues, processions, ex-votos, marching bands and obviously food.
There are many traditional dishes that feature on the Easter table in Sicily with bread and sweets, linked both to the Christian liturgy and to pre-Christian fertility rituals, taking centre stage.
There are so many different Easter recipes in Sicilian cuisine, pastieri, lamb mpanate, Cudduredde, also know as 'Pupi cu l’ova’ or ‘Palummeddi’, a sweet small lamb made of marzipan and pistachio, the cassata and the cassatelle, or cassatine. You can find some of the recipes following the links above or here.
This year I will share with you the recipe for the ‘colombine di pasta forte’, literally ‘strong pastry little doves’. They are crunchy and flavored with cinnamon and cloves.
The preparation is very simple but it takes some planning because it needs two/three days to allow the ‘colombine’ to dry before cooking them in the oven.
Letting them dry for a few days is what gives the traditional appearance to this sweet during the cooking process with a dark caramelized base and a hollow white top.
300 grams 00 Flour
300 grams Sugar
75 ml Water
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Cloves
Heat the water in a saucepan and add the sugar slowly. Stir constantly and turn off the heat before the water reaches boiling point. It doesn't matter if the sugar doesn't dissolve completely.
On a marble or wooden board combine flour and finely ground cinnamon and cloves. Create a deep well in the middle of the flour and pour the water and sugar syrup. Knead until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous.
Then cut a piece of dough and rolling it between your hands, create small balls (roughly 2cm diameter) and give it the shape of a little dove (see picture above). Be creative, you can use a fork or other decoration tools to add details to the wings or keep them really simple.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the ‘colombine’ 5-6 cm apart from each other.
Cover the tray with a cheesecloth and leave to rest for 2-3 days, preferably in the sun, so that the exposed surface of each sweet will dry out and take on a whitish color.
After 2-3 days, wet the base of the ‘colombine’ with some water and transfer them to a baking tray lined with wet parchment paper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° C for about 10-15 minutes so that the sugar will melt and run out to create the brown caramelized base of each ‘colombina’.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and let them reach room temperature before eating them.
Note: This is a particular kind of pastry also known as 'pasta garofanata' is also used on the 2nd of November to prepare the ‘ossa di morto’, traditional sweets shaped like bones
prepared to celebrate Il Giorno dei Defunti.