A traditional Colomba Pasquale or Colomba di Pasqua, meaning Easter Dove, is sweet bread made at Easter from dough, which is similar to Panettone. Most Italians will agree that traditionally it is shaped like a stylised dove and covered in pearl sugar and studded with almonds, what they don’t agree in is the origin of this cake.
Alboin's entrance into Pavia
According to one legend it was first seen after the battle of Legnano in 1176 when cities of the Lombard League defeated Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who was intent on capturing Italy for on behalf of the pope and the Holy Roman Empire. The legend tells a story of two doves, symbolizing the Holy Ghost, appearing on the altar of the chariot carrying the battle standards. The Colomba Pasquale commemorates that victory. Another legend however tells of this cake being the saving grace of Pavia almost 600 years before the Battle of Leganano. Albion, king of the Lombards in 530 selected a dozen young girls as part of his spoils of war to take to his bed. Whilst all the other girls were weeping, one of the girls decided instead to made a cake in the shape of a dove, which she presented to the king. He was, according to this legend, so impressed that he set her free and made Pavia his capital.

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For Vanessa Kimbell’s no nonsense Colomba de Pasquale recipe click here.