In a medium bowl add the lukewarm water, honey and yeast, let sit 3-5 minutes then stir to combine. Add the flour and mix to form a dough ball, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for 1-2 hours or until tripled in volume.
In the bowl of the mixer add the starter dough, flour, sugar and salt, with the dough hook attachment start to knead. Add the milk and egg and knead until completely combined. Then add the butter a little at a time, continue kneading until completely combined. Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for 4 hours or until tripled in bulk.
Place the risen dough in the mixer and add the egg and knead to combine. Add the flour in two additions, kneading continually, continue kneading for 10 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time and knead until combined. Add the zest and candied fruit, knead nine minutes then add the chocolate chips and knead for another minute, the dough will be stretchy.
Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface. Knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Depending on whether you have a colomba pan or not you could make a large colomba or a small one with a small loaf or a large loaf. If you make a colomba then form the dough into three pieces*, one long log and 3 small oval shaped balls-see photos). Place in pan and let rise 3-4 hours or until doubled.
Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Place a pan with 1 1/2 cups of water in it on the bottom of the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes (if the bread is browning too much then cover it with foil and continue baking) then lower oven to 325F (165C) for approximately 10-15 minutes (more if you make a larger one dove or loaf) or until toothpick (I used a wooden kabob stick) comes out clean or a couple of crumbs are attached. Let cool before serving. Enjoy!
In a small bowl beat together until thick, egg white and powdered/icing sugar, coat top of final risen dough, sprinkle with whole almonds and pearl / nib sugar.
*I made a smaller dove and the rope piece weight 300 grams and the oval weighed 150 grams. I used a tall loaf/can pan 7x3 inches (18x9cm).
Remove the eggs from the fridge about 45-60 minutes before using.