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Welcome spring with the Italian Easter cake, Colomba. Discover its history and learn how to make this delicious treat at home. Indulge in the sweet flavors of the season and make your celebrations even more special.

Welcome The Sweet Arrival of Spring with Colomba

By Evan Upchurch

Spring is a time of triumphant rebirth, reminding us of life’s inevitable cycles.  Sweet-scented flowers are beckoned to bloom while leaves regenerate under a miraculous spell of unbound growth. The world becomes greener and more colorful. The air seems cleaner, fresher. The arrival of sunnier days and warmer weather invites us to gather and celebrate the return of life happening all around us. As Easter festivities begin, communing around food is a much-anticipated element of the holiday, and for Italian culture, there is no sweeter surprise than the colomba di Pasqua, or “the Easter dove.”   

The Process of Making Colomba, an Easter Delicacy

Specially made for Easter, the Colomba is a traditional Italian sweet cake made in the shape of a dove. Like its Christmastime counterpart, the panettone, Colomba is often exempt from the Italian tradition of home cooking, as most people (even nonnas) have their favorite bakeries or specialty stores where they purchase the annual treat. Each year, Sant Ambroeus imports our favorite Colomba whose recipe has been carefully preserved by the same family for over three generations, echoing our belief in the power of consistency and relationships.

Traditionally, the Colomba is made over a period of up to three days, proving to be a process both complex and full of loving care. The dessert’s rich dough is made with wheat flour, pure butter, fresh pasteurized eggs, and natural yeast, and it’s left to rise for at least 30 hours. Selected vine fruits and candied orange peels are then placed inside the dough like delicate treasures before being baked in a dove-shaped mold. As a fragrant (and delicious) finishing touch, the Colomba is covered with hazelnut glaze, granulated sugar, and whole almonds, leaving the cake’s unique combination of textures and flavors ready to be savored. 

The Captivating History of the Colomba

Behind every great recipe, there is a rich story to be told. While we know that the Colomba originated in Milan, legends dating back to the Middle Ages surround the famous sweet bread. In one story, the Colomba was baked to celebrate the 1176 Lombardian victory over the Holy Roman Empire when two doves were spotted on the battlefield. In another, the 6th-century Lombardian King Alboin captured the city of Pavia just one day before Easter and demanded tribute from its citizens. A young girl baked the Colomba to appease the king, who loved the sweet bread so much that he spared both her and the city.

In both dramatic stories, the dove represents peace and a certain reawakening echoed during Easter festivities, which symbolize a time to leave the worries of everyday life aside and enjoy the moment in gratitude. During the holiday, we believe that sharing a Colomba as a family is a way to bond over a shared love for its tastiness. That is why we make it a priority to provide our customers with the best and most beautifully wrapped Colomba there is to offer at our stores and online.

Ways To Enjoy Colomba In Your Spring Cuisine

Here are some ways we recommend to delight in this delicious sweet bread:

  1. For a mid-morning treat, enjoy this fluffy bread with a foamy cappuccino.
  2. Warm up a few slices in the oven and serve with a scoop of your favorite Sant Ambroeus gelato for an irresistible dessert.
  3. Make a toast to the arrival of spring with Colomba and a glass of Sant Ambroeus Prosecco.

With spring upon us, let us give thanks for all expressions of life and, of course, the sweet treats we enjoy in the company of loved ones.