Daring Bakers – Povitica

 The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

I have seen Povitica in mail-order specialty food catalogs and have always been intrigued by it. I love specialty foods, especially if they come in the form of sweet breads! I rarely purchase any of these foods, a little too rich for my wallet, but I definitely drool over the photos. You can imagine then that I really looked forward to baking this months challenge.

Povitica (pronounced poh-vee-teet-sa) is also called potica depending on what Eastern European country you come from. It is always fun completing challenges that are based in cultures different from mine.

I thought that the best part of this challenge was cutting into the bread! It was almost like opening a present on Christmas morning and not knowing what you were going to get. The outside packaging was so unassuming so I was on pins and needles waiting to see how the swirls turned out. You can see from the photos at the top that the two loaves of bread turned out quite different. But even within the same loaf the swirling was varied. The photo on the top left is the same loaf as the photo below, but one cut was made in the middle where the two ends met and there was less filling and the other cut was toward the end of the bread in the heart of the filling.

I did have some issues with the dough which I guess can be expected when you have to roll it out until it is almost transparent. Let’s just say I didn’t get it quite that thin. I know I complained last month about having to roll dough out to a certain size or shape but this month it was almost the other extreme. I wasn’t sure how big I was supposed to roll it out nor what shape it was supposed to be in. At one point the directions said a 10-12 inch diameter which suggests a circle, but the rolling up process suggests a rectangle. I’m still not 100% sure and I think I got a cross between the two shapes. Mine looked a bit more like a wrinkly elephant ear.

I also ran into trouble with trying to figure out what type of filling to use. I decided to bake only two loaves instead of a full batch of 4 and I knew I wanted to use the traditional walnut for one of the fillings. At first I thought I would use a sweet pecan filling for the other but then I realized it would be too close to the walnut. Then I thought I’d use a cream cheese chocolate chip filling but I realized I didn’t have cream cheese and I forgot to stop by the store twice when I had the opportunity so that was a no go. I finally scrounged in my fridge and realized I had a jar of apple butter which I could top with raisins and a few chopped walnuts. I think I liked the walnut filling better since it was a bit more mild when paired with the bread, but there were sometimes that I did like the tartness of the apple butter.

I enjoyed making this bread and now that I know a few tricks on how to and not to roll it out I think I will be making this around the holidays for some special gifts.

Povitica
Makes 4 loaves

Activate Yeast:
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast

Dough:
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons table salt
4 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
8 cups all-purpose flour, sifted then divided

Walnut Filling:
7 cups ground walnuts
1 cup whole milk
1 cup unsalted butter
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:
1/2 cup cold strong coffee
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
melted butter

To Make the Dough and Activate Yeast:
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180 degrees F), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. Allow to cool slightly until it is about 110 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into 1/2 cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand 5 minutes.

Once milk is cooled to 110 degrees F, mix the scalded milk, 3/4 cup sugar, and the salt until combined. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups of flour. Blend thoroughly; slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. (You may not use all your flour.) Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will weigh about 1.25 pounds each). Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place.

To Make the Filling:
In a large bowl, mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. Heat the milk and butter to boiling. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough. (If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.)

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered. (I had to clip mine down so the cloth didn’t move.) Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly).

Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches in diameter. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons for melted butter on top and work into dough. (This part made my edges stick to my sheet.)

Continue to roll out your dough until it is thin enough to see the print of the sheet through it. Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered. Lift the edge of the dough and gently roll it jelly roll style. (You can also roll both edges in toward center until they meet – it will look like to long rolls sitting next to each other.)

Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift the end and fold it back to the halfway point. Then lift the other end and fold it back to the halfway point. Flip it upside down (seam side down) and set in greased loaf pan.

Brush the top with the coffee topping mixture or if you prefer, you can also used egg whites in place of coffee mixture. Cover pans lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place in preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 300 degrees F and bake for an additional 45 minutes. (Check bread every 30 minutes – if it is browning too fast cover loosely with aluminum foil.)

Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter. Allow to cool in loaf pan until completely cool. It is recommended to slice it by turning it upside dough and slicing with a serrated knife.

Half Batch Ingredients:
Makes 2 loaves

Activate Yeast:
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast

Dough:
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted then divided

Walnut Topping:
3 1/2 cups ground walnuts
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 whole egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:
1/4 cup cold strong coffee
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
melted butter

Quarter Batch Ingredients:
Makes 1 loaf

Activate Yeast:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

Dough:
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons table salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted then divided

Walnut Topping:
1 3/4 cups ground walnuts
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 egg yolk from a large egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:
2 tablespoons cold strong coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
melted butter

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18 thoughts on “Daring Bakers – Povitica

  1. 'elephant ear' shape? :)) Yeah, I guess I can describe mine too like that, it was neither rectangular nor circular! Your povitica looks awesome. Nice swirls.

  2. They look amazing! The apple butter filling sounds delicious! I will add this suggestion to my already long list of fillings for future Poviticas. I totally agree with you about the best part being when you cut the loaf open. I had a huge smile on my face when I saw the swirls since I had trouble spreading the coarse filling onto the thin dough. I even cut it in different angles to see the patterns "dance" 🙂

  3. Both versions look and sound delicious. Apple butter is not available off the shelf here, but I know it tastes good because someone sent me some once, and I think ti should have been a lovely filling for this bread.

  4. Great job on the challenge and your right it was like opening a present, I like how your bread had some distinct rolls of dark and light. I wish mine would have been more like that but I didn't use the traditional ingredients in the filling. Anyway lovely job.

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