Every holiday has its own food traditions associated with it. Sometimes, these food traditions might be unique to your own family. Other times, these traditions are enjoyed by a much larger group of people. For instance, many people bake up batches of Hot Cross Buns around Easter. If you’re in Italy, however, you might be celebrating with a Colomba di Pasqua instead.
Also known as “Dove Bread,” this panettone-like loaf is a rich yeast bread made with butter, eggs and sugar. The bread is formed into the shape of a dove (or approximately the shape of a dove) or baked in a special pan that already has that signature shape. The loaf is packed with candied citrus peel and topped with whole almonds and crunchy pearl sugar. You might be able to find the bread in Italian bakeries or specialty stores that have a good selection of seasonal international favorites, as it is not that well known. I was a bit surprised to see it loaves of Trader Joe’s Classic Colomba di Pasqua on my last visit to the popular grocery chain and picked up their version – which is made in Italy – to give it a try.
The Trader Joe’s loaf has the signature, if slighlty abstract, dove shape that the bread is supposed to have. It is topped with a sweet, crunchy, meringue-like layer that gives the bread some extra texture and really sets off the large chunks of sugar and whole almonds studding it. It has a soft, light crumb and a distinct orange flavor, thanks to a generous amount of citrus peel that can be found throughout the bread. The topping is sweet, but the bread itself is buttery and not overly sweet. I immediately wanted to slather it with good butter and eat it for breakfast. Like panettone, you could use this loaf to make toast, french toast or even bread pudding, if you don’t want to just chow down on it as-is. It’s a delicious bread and just might make a good addition to your existing Easter traditions – even if you’re starting with a store-bought loaf like this one!