For me, Easter is not Easter without colomba – Italian Easter cake (some say “bread” but for me it’s “cake”.)
Colomba is very similar to panettone (Italian Christmas cake). In fact, Italian bakers – industrial and artisan – use the same equipment and ingredients to make both “cakes”.
As with panettone, I have been brainwashed by Signor Lu into believing that colomba senza canditi (without candied fruit) is best.
I ate industrial colomba only this Easter (Italy’s economic crisis is far from over, you know) but that’s fine by me. I like the mass-produced boxes of colomba that clog up the supermarket aisles in the run-up to Easter.
While the colomba I chose for our small household was not the traditional variety (it contained sultanas but had no candied fruit), a student very kindly gave me an even less traditional variety – a chocolate and orange-flavoured colomba. It, too, is quite nice.
The best thing about colomba is its irregular dove-like shape. (The dove is a symbol of peace.) The shape poses a small geometrical challenge when it comes to cutting the cake.
The challenge is to get the best possible slice to put on your plate while ensuring that the surface area of cut-cake is kept to a minimum so that future slices are not stale. I haven’t quite mastered the art of colomba-cutting…probably because I only practise it once a year.