Easy recipe for Italian Easter Colomba

Written by on April 3, 2021 in Gastronomy, Recipes

Colomba presented with chocolate Easter eggs

Easy recipe for Colomba di Pasqua, the Italian Easter sweet delight

What is Colomba di Pasqua and where it comes from

Colomba di Pasqua is a similar sweet bread to Panettone and Pandoro, but it is made traditionally for Easter. Shaped like a dove, the bread is glazed and covered with crystallized sugar and unpeeled almonds. Hence the name, Colomba (meaning dove) and Pasqua (meaning Easter). Colomba is the symbol of peace, love and also the Spring.

This rich and soft cake is traditionally made with high-quality flour, fresh eggs, sugar, butter, and natural yeast that takes at least 30 hours to rise. After rising, the dough is then baked into the iconic dove shape.

Sound complicated? It is. Like panettone, colomba is one of the rare exceptions to Italian cuisine; even the most traditional nonna (grandma) will buy her colomba from the store or pasticceria, rather than make it herself. Of course, a wide choice is available with different types of filling depending on the region of Italy.

There are several legends and stories about the origin of this delicious cake, and why it is shaped as a dove. In one version, the colomba marks the 1176 Lombardian victory over the Holy Roman Empire, when two doves miraculously appeared on the battleground.

doves sitting on the roof

But the real origin of this sweet is more recent. In the 30’s Dino Villani, working for Motta, an industry from Milano also famous for its Chritmas Panettone, developed a sweet similar to Panettone. He wanted a cake to be produced with the same machine as the Panettone and to be sold for the Easter celebration. Colomba got very popular quickly and since then it is present in almost every Italian family’s table at Easter.

Here we show you a simple version of making the Colomba. You will need the dove shaped paper mold (750 g base). If you cannot get it, no problem, use an aluminium baking tray instead. You can also try to shape it as a dove and then line it with parchment paper.

Ingredients for the Colomba

350 g flour; 3 eggs; 170 g milk; 150 g sugar; zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange; 1 almond aroma; 1 packet of dried instant yeast for pizza; 70 g dried candied fruit mix; some whole, unpeeled almonds and some crystallized sugar for decoration.

How to prepare the Colomba

Preheat the oven for 180 C.

Separate the eggs, putting the yolk in one bowl and the whites in another. Grate the lemon and orange zest and add them to the egg yolks. Pour in the almond aroma, sugar and the milk, whisk them well with an electric mixer. Little by little, add the flour and the dried yeast and whisk it until it is smooth.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until they are firm. Gently fold it in the mixture. Add the dried candied fruits and stir it well. In case you do not like candied fruit, you can replace it with chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the paper mold or lined aluminium tray and decorate it with the almond and crystallized sugar on the top.

Place it in the oven and bake it for 40 minutes.

And enjoy!

eating the Easter cake with coffee or with some sweat wine

Delicious on its own, however, colomba is often served with fresh berries, whipped cream or drizzled in dark chocolate. Italians even enjoy a slice with some coffee or cappuccino for breakfast!  You can also  pair this festive cake with a glass of Prosecco or dessert wine.

Buon Appetito!


Do you know what Zabaione is? It is a lovely sweat creamy dessert perfect also to be served with your Colomba.



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