WHAT IS COLOMBA CAKE
Colomba cake is a wonderfully fragrant leavened cake, shaped like a dove, Colomba in Italian. It is similar to Panettone and contains candied fruit (orange and apricot), almonds and glaze icing.
For centuries, after Easter Sunday lunch, Italians have been scoffing down Colomba cake as well as chocolate Easter eggs, both symbols of love, peace and rebirth.
You can tell something is really good when it’s been around for so long that no one really knows how it sprang to life and fantastic legends are handed down over time. The Colomba is no exception.
Legend has it that in medieval times, Barbarians led by King Alboino invaded Italy and held siege over Pavia. After 3 years, on Easter Saturday 572(?), the city finally succumbed and a rather infuriated Alboina entered. Just as he was preparing to raise the city and kill all the inhabitants, a number of people arrived bearing gifts of submission. An old artisan baker brought some sweet bread in the form of a dove. “Sire, I give you this dove as a sign of peace for Easter Day” The King took one bite and was so impressed he swore an oath “in honour of this dove I shall respect this city and its inhabitants.”
Colomba cake is also linked however to another legend during the battle of Legnano in 1176 where the League of Lombard Councils was victorious over Federico Barbarossa. To celebrate, a Lombard baker made some sweet, dove-shaped bread as a gift to the three white birds, the highest symbol of protection which were inscribed on the Lombard insignia. Well, there you go!
The first ingredients were very simple: eggs, flour and yeast. Only in the 19th century did the form as we know it today come to life, when a sweet bread similar to Panettone came onto the market. Its popularity reached the masses in the 1930s as a classic for Easter. Since then there have been many varieties of Colomba with different fillings and toppings, some working better than others!
And Where Can I Find a Good One?
The best ones we’ve ever tried (and we’ve tried a lot! 🙂 ) come from the Fiasconaro Brothers bakery in Sicily. The select ingredients include Avolan almonds, Normandy butter, fresh Sicilian Candied Oranges bathed in aromatic Marsala and Zibibbo wines and the finest Manitoba Durum Wheat flour.
They all enjoy an extraordinary fragrance, lightness and a moist texture you can only experience with cakes literally fresh from the oven… Try them out right here!