Every spring, expert Italian bakers start the creative 30+ hour process of creating Italy’s finest artisanal cake: colomba di Pasqua, or “Easter Dove."
Traditionally, Colomba’s ingredients were simply flour, eggs and yeast. However over time, bakers and nonnas alike started experimenting with recipes that we now know today as the Colomba you’ll most likely find on our Easter table. Raisins, candied fruit, icing, marzipan and amaretto compliment the naturally-leavened, soft textured cake.
Why the dove shape? Well, there are many legends related to the origin of Colomba Pasquale. The oldest, dating back to the 6th century when King Alboin took over the castle of Pavia. History tells the story that when the castle surrendered, he was offered a dove-shaped sweet bread - a symbol of peace.
Alboin's Entrance into Pavia
A similar legend suggests that the cake was baked by a young girl in hopes of saving her hometown of Pavia as well as herself from becoming one of the dozen girls chosen by King Albion as his gift post-war. When the king tasted the delicious Colomba, he freed the young baker and spared Pavia altogether.
One other popular version states that Colomba marks the 1176 Lombardian victory over the Holy Roman Empire, when two doves, symbolizing the Holy Ghost, miraculously appeared on the battleground and was later celebrated with a dove-shaped cake.
Although many legends claim to be the birth of Colomba, we know one thing is for sure: this delicious cake, often served with fresh berries, drizzled in dark chocolate and paired with whipped cream, is the festive addition you need on your Easter table.
Don’t forget your glass of Prosecco or dessert wine!