An Easter tradition
Giving a Colomba cake to family and friends during Easter is an Italian tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Translating to ‘dove’, the Colomba has developed into a symbol of peace.
Colomba is an Italian sweet cake that has many similar characteristics to its Christmas equivalent, the Panettone. It often contains dried fruits and is decorated with sugar and almonds. Making Colomba requires a great deal of patience as it needs to rise for several hours and can take an entire day to complete.
There are many conflicting stories about where and how this cake originated. According to one legend, it was given to the King of the Longobards, Alboino, during the sixth century. It is believed that while the King was in conflict with the city of Pavia, the cake was offered to him as a peace offering – however, it was in the shape of a ring.
Another belief is that the story of the Colomba began in the 12th century when the city of Milan defeated Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. It is said that upon his defeat, two doves appeared over the city as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and the Colomba was created to honour this victory.
What can be said with a great deal of certainty, however, is that the cake was made commercially popular thanks to Milanese baker, Angelo Motta, founder of the Motta food company. He is credited with the commercialisation of both the Panettone and the Colomba during the beginning of the 20th century.
And, to this day, Motta remains one of the most popular Colomba brands in the world.
Chef Flavio Tosolini of Fourth Village Providore in Mosman, New South Wales, shares his own Colomba recipe.
Pick up the March/April issue of Italianicious to learn how to make your own Colomba.