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Colomba round 1

SueVT's picture

Colomba round 1

Results of my first round of Colomba testing.

I think that results were satisfactory, but I learned several things:

1. Recipe: Colomba is not the same as panettone. I used my current panettone recipe, and the results were almost too soft and airy; Colomba is a long, flat cake, and so it needs a bit of structural integrity to be physically stable. Make sure your recipe isn't extreme in any direction.

2. Baking: Don't put the pans on a baking sheet, as the bottoms will either be burned or not as done as the rest of the cake. Because of the shape, Colomba bakes in less time than panettone. There is a balance between baking slowly enough for optimal dextrin formation, and fast enough to achieve good oven spring. Baking on a preheated stone seems like the best option to achieve both.

3. Sugar: This is a sweet cake, with a lot of top crust area. Between the glaze, pearl sugar and powdered sugar, it can become too sweet. So, reduce the amount of pearl sugar to a dramatic sprinkle.

4. Skewers: Make sure you have long skewers ready that can be placed in pairs diagonally through the pans right after removing from the oven, and have a place to hang the cakes. 


 This was a nice crumb result, for me it is more attractive than Massari's Colomba, which is made "con metodo pandoro". I can appreciate this, as a pandoro version would have a sturdier crumb. I have had the Fiasconaro Colomba Pandorata, and don't prefer it. And so, I am working with panettone dough here.

It is a light crumb and very moist; baked in 35 minutes to 93-4C. The shape of Colomba makes it important to check internal temperature in the center of the cake.  

My paper pans are small, designed for 500g of dough. I scaled these cakes at 550g, but will go higher next time. This is more of a fashion thing.

Dough development:

My Lievito Madre was out of storage for four days, and was fed twice/day, with alternating warm/cool refreshments and also alternating water and free storage. (water for warm refreshments, free for longer, cool refreshments). I use a thermoelectric cooler for both.  I find that around day three, I usually begin to see much more dramatic rising of the LM, particularly during warm refreshment (expected). I go another day before using the LM for baking. 

I did two baking-day refreshments, 4 hours each, each one rose very well. This helps to "sweeten" the LM just prior to using it to bake.

My first impasto was made with Pasini panettone flour, fermented at 22C for 10.5 hours. The final pH was 5.01. 

My second impasto was made with King Arthur Galahad flour because of this nice high pH, no worries about gluten damage in the dough. This was done to get the softest crumb, and indeed the crumb was very soft. Dough at the end of second impasto was extremely extensible and handled well. 

For the next test, I will use technical flour for the second impasto as well. (It remains to be seen whether baking on a hot stone will offset the tenderness of the crumb)

Final rise was 4.5 hours at 28C in the Brod & Taylor proofing box. Glazed, pearl sugar, whole almonds and powdered sugar applied just before baking.

Overall, this was a good test and it's always nice to eat the results! 



The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Wow Sue, you are so talented! Beautiful bake.


Will F.

SueVT's picture

Thanks for the kind words, Will! 

semolina_man's picture

Well done!  Looks great.

SueVT's picture

Thank you, much appreciated!


mwilson's picture

What's the hydration of the pictured LM?

Massari has several recipes for all the grani lievitati including Colomba. His default recipe is the formulated similar to panettone with two doughs as are most Maestri formulae. The Colomba con metodo pandoro gives a fine even crumb (as per Pandoro) and includes some bakers yeast and I know open crumb is your thing!

You should try Massari's two dough Colomba. It's a good formula.

Colomba Iginio Massari. Prezzi, recensioni, novità Pasqua 2023

SueVT's picture

That final refresh was at 40%, because it was following a 4-hour Water-stored refreshment (which was at 47%), and so already was retaining water. 

I am going to do at least 3 tests, and so I will try the Massari recipe on page 91 of Cresci, thank you. I have another recipe from Fabrizio Galla that I want to compare it to....

I'm about to give my LM a warm sugared bagnetto and get started on another round.... thank you again.


mwilson's picture

Cool. So you are also taking advantage of the Morandin style refresh (in water). I'm finding it really helpful too, especially for corrective feeds.

The two-dough Colomba formula in Cresci (p 212 in my copy) also includes Baker's yeast, I guess you are planning to leave it out...

I prefer his formula in Non Solo Zucchero which doesn't include extra yeast and I would recommend it.

Here it is:

Colomba - Non Solo Zucchero - Massari
Primo Impasto   
Lievito Naturale 700140
Water 1000200
Sugar 1000200
Yolks 700140
Flour (W 300-330) 2700540
Butter 1100220
Secondo Impasto   
Flour (W 360) 700140
Sugar 700140
Honey 30060
Yolks 500100
Butter 1550310
Salt 5010
Candied Orange Paste 10020
Vanilla n.n.
Water 500100
Candied Orange Cubes 3000600
Total 146002920

Good luck with those and I look forward to seeing the results.


SueVT's picture

Here is my page from Cresci.... the water and butter are different from the recipe you show..... hmmm.

And there is no baker's yeast..... so I guess he published another recipe on the site you referenced??

mwilson's picture

I understand there are several versions of Cresci that have been printed. I believe I have the Original European English version (printed 2000). Cresci has a reputation for containing numerous errors. So there's that.

Here's mine. It's quite different in terms of the numbers, but Cu values are tracking at about the same for both doughs despite the NSZ version being more enriched.


SueVT's picture

I wonder how many versions there are! Hard to sort it out.

I think the butter number in the NSZ recipe is quite high, might be a hard one to succeed with?

There is a FB discussion page about Massari Errata that I joined a while back, because of trying to figure out one of the panettone recipes in Cresci that just didn't make sense

SueVT's picture

I think I copied these values correctly..... Perhaps the recipe you have is newer? It's quite different, much more butter....

albacore's picture

You Colomba looks fantastic Sue! One of these days I'll summon up courage to have another dabble at grandi lievitati.



SueVT's picture

thank you Lance!

Benito's picture

Another amazing bake Sue, I’m sure that is one tasty Colomba.  Your baking never ceases to amaze.


SueVT's picture

Thank you for the kind words! I've baked a lot of panettone, but I'm just starting to learn how to make the Colomba. Because of the shape of it, it requires the dough to be a certain way, and the baking to be done differently too. I know that you bake a wide variety of bread forms, similar issues I think. 

islandbakery's picture

You're Colomba's are beautiful, good job. I'm gearing up to make them for Easter as well. My formula appears to be substantially different, it's one I learned at SFBI, but the results are always pretty good.

Curious where you were able to find the baking forms. I have some for this year but can't seem to find a source anymore (even on Amazon)


SueVT's picture

Thank you! I got the colomba forms from Fantes Kitchen Shop (fantes dot com). They only seem to have the small (500g) ones, but at least they have some! The only other option I can find requires that I purchase a case of 400, which I am unlikely to do!

I am trying two or three recipes, to see what works best for me. Today, I am making what seems to be a good recipe from Fabrizio Galla, which has a lovely youtube video explaining precisely their process.