Yes Colomba is an Easter tradition in much of Italy. (There is also Torta Pastiera, Agnello Pasquale and other non-sweet dishes like lamb.) But where many of the typical Easter dishes vary from region to region, Colomba, like Panettone, has infiltrated most of the country, and has transformed into many different iterations, including many non-classical versions. For those who want something different – these two producers offer excellent sweet yeasty breads, that you can pull apart with your hands, with a tender crumb, moist interior, and lots of flavor.
Bonci – Non-traditional Panbriacone “Drunken Bread” is part Colomba, part baba al rhum, the entire cake is soaked in sweet liquor syrup. The light yeast dough absorbs the syrup keeping the bread fresh for a month or more. Each bite is infused with flavor, and liquor. Opt for the classic and enjoy raisins soaked in vin santo, or go all out and get the one with chocolate and rum. This is a cake to enjoy as dessert, best alone, when you can eat it with your hands, and then you’ll find yourself licking your hands. Multiple napkins needed!
Lenti – This artisanal producer sticks to the tried and true traditions of mother dough and wood fired ovens, but at the same time they aren’t afraid to innovate. While the traditional Colomba is exemplary, they also make an intriguing black olive version that has a captivating hard-to-pin down flavor. Studded with dark candied olives, the bread is shades of violet and black. The flavor is sweet without being overly so, the olives adding an unexpected depth of flavor and a hint of the grass and pepper aromas you find in olive oil.