Daring Bakers-Povitica

Blog-checking lines: 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!

Well, back about two weeks ago I made this recipe.  It was a bit of a race against the clock, but surprisingly is turned out EXACTLY as I would have hoped.  This is quite a phenomenon because normally there is something or other wrong.  I fully expected that I would forget to let the bread sit in the pan until cooled and it would flop out of the pan to split apart dramatically.  At which point I would begin again and hope for no more lapses in memory.

Yet this didn’t actually happen.

Now, I was a bit afraid that this month’s Daring Baker’s would be something I had done before.  Though I enjoy perfecting recipes and working with them so that they are to my taste, I wanted to be surprised by something new and unknown.  This was it.  As mentioned in the blog-checking lines, this is an Eastern European bread, and as I do very little of that sort of cooking, this was a great recipe.

The original recipe that we were required to make included a walnut filling, and that was the one I used.  Despite my desire to make a bananas foster Povitica, I didn’t get to just because of the time frame.  The walnut filling for this was great.  I increased the cocoa to two tablespoons.  I did use the normal amount of filling, but if I do it again I think I my do 1 1/2 times the amount, in order to to make the best moister and more decadent.  Though this might make the spirals less beautiful, I had my moment in the sun with the beauty of my other Povitica, and no longer mind sacrificing looks for taste, which really is the main goal.

I must say that this recipe wasn’t as difficult as it could have been.  Though some people had difficulty rolling out the dough, I found it to be quite easy.  You just have to make sure that you continue to lift up the dough once in a while, so that it can stretch out some on its own.  The technique that I used to place the roll in the pan was the one that another blogger mentioned.  I rolled the dough around the filling from both sides, then I took the two ends of the double roll and folded them to the middle.  Then I flipped the roll over and placed it in the pan so that the rolls ran parallel to the pan. Two other filling recipes were suggested besides walnut: Apple cinnamon and creeam cheese.  People also got creative with flavors like peanut butter and jelly, pumpkin, nutella, and many savory flavors.

Here is the recipe:

Preparation time:
To make Dough: 40 minutes
Rising: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Rolling and Assembly: 20 minutes per loaf, a generous total of 1 hour
Baking: 1 hour
Cooling: 30 minutes
To Make the Filling: 15 minutes, including the grinding of the nuts

Equipment required:
• A large work space, like a 4-person table or large kitchen island
• 4 large bowls to rise dough
• Plastic Wrap
• 4 Kitchen/Tea Towels
• 4 bread loaf pans (or as many as you own, and re-use them)
• Rolling Pin
• A Sheet or Cloth (the better the thread count and the softer they are, the less likely the dough will stick)
• Measuring Cups and Spoons
• Wooden Spoons
• Pastry Brush
• Medium Saucepan
• Candy Thermometer
• Small Bowl
• Small Saucepan
• Nut Grinder
• Rubber Spatula
• Pastry scrapper

Povitica (makes 4 loaves)

Ingredients
To activate the Yeast:
2 Teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
½ Cup (120ml) Warm Water
2 Tablespoons (30ml/14 gm/½ oz/2 sachets) Dry Yeast

Dough:
2 Cups (480ml) Whole Milk
¾ Cup (180 ml/170gm/6 oz) Sugar
3 Teaspoons (15 ml/18 gm/2/3 oz) Table Salt
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup (120ml/115 gm/one stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
8 cups (1.92 l/1.12 kg/39½ oz/2½ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

Walnut Filling:
7 Cups (1.68 l/1.12 kg/2.5 lbs) Ground English Walnuts
1 Cup (240ml) Whole Milk
1 Cup (240ml/225 gm/2 sticks/8 oz) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon (5ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Cups (480ml/450 gm/16 oz) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) Cinnamon

Topping:
½ Cup (120 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
2 Tablespoons (30 ml/28 gm/1 oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Directions:
To Activate Yeast:
1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour
8. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
9. 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, until doubled in size.
To Make the Filling10. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
18. 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 (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.23. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll. (Please see post for how I rolled to get 4 clear spirals)
25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced
26. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
27. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
33. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.
35. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

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About Madeleine C.

Hi I'm Madeleine and I am an avid cook and baker! Between school, homework swimming, and everything else in my life, I really enjoy cooking! I am 15 (now 16) years old, and have two brothers, both of whom have celiac disease along with my father. For this reason, I often make gluten-free things that will satisfy them as well as those who can readily consume gluten. I enjoy making the complex and the simple, and enjoy a challenge while cooking. That's just about it!