Colomba is the Easter Panettone. It gets its name from its dove shape, the symbol of peace. Like panettone, it is a rich egg bread, tall and yeasty, and in the best cases, incredibly light in texture. The bread should pull apart easily in thick chunks, with large air pockets trapped inside. Also like Panettone, the Colomba traditionally contains candied fruit, but the top is crusted with crunchy sugar pearls and almonds. Modern versions come in all varieties from the traditional with candied citrus peel, to specialty versions with dried peaches and candied hazelnuts, to spiked cherry or lemon curd and a host of other flavors, including even a sweet olive flavor from one ballsy bakery (see Renegade Colomba). The bread keeps well, and will last for days or weeks, if you can manage to keep it around. When good it is sweet and satisfying and equally enjoyable for breakfast as for dessert. It goes perfectly with a sweet floral Moscato D’Asti.
Unfortunately supermarkets are full of inexpensive dry dove shaped Colomba that only disappoint and won’t convey what this cake is capable of.
Recommended: Artisan Colomba from a local bakery (such as Pasticceria Stefania or Pasticceria Lorenzo in Florence) or trusted producers like Loison.