What’s the difference between Colomba and Panettone?

Signori e signore, here’s a Colomba tasting guided by master pastry chef Luigi Biasetto himself:

“The ideal Colomba must have a long proofing period to make it very soft. It must have a strong golden color since it has so many egg yolks and must be very rich in little pieces of candied orange.” – Luigi Biasetto

yes, but What is a Colomba anyway?

It’s easy to think of Colomba as the Easter equivalent to Panettone and Pandoro. And although they’re in the same family, several factors set these holiday cakes apart. The first difference is an obvious one, the shape. “Colomba” means “dove” in Italian. When you look at your Colomba from above, you’ll clearly see a well-rounded central body flanked by two wings, with head and tail at opposite ends. The dove shape is deeply symbolic, especially around Easter, and it’s associated with the bearing of good news, prosperity, and peace.  A perfect message for springtime!

This irregular shape means Colomba is more challenging to make than its Christmassy versions. The leavening and cooking process are invariably altered, so getting an even texture throughout the cake becomes trickier.

The second thing you’ll notice about your Colomba is the decorative top. While Pandoro gets a simple sprinkling of powdered sugar and Panettone goes nude, Colomba has an extra special topping. On Biasetto’s Colomba, you’ll find a sugar glaze studded with crunchy bits of sugar and whole almonds. Delicious.

Luigi’s Colomba starts with flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and, of course, his famous nonagenarian lievito madre. Unlike Panettone, Colomba is raisin-free, so candied orange peel is the key player. The texture is soft, light, and fluffy with an ever so slightly dry edge.

Colomba rises for a long time before going in the oven. This is to ensure an even crumb that’s strong enough to suspend the pieces of candied orange but soft enough to melt away in your mouth.

Cut into a Colomba from Biasetto, and your eyes are immediately drawn to the intense yellow interior. Each ingredient is balanced to perfection, creating a soft but not overly leavened Colomba, with an even dispersal of air pockets and just the right amount of orange peel. Overall, if you loved his Panettone, you’ll love his Colomba too!