Thursday, October 27, 2011

October Daring Bakers Challenge - Povitica

Traditional Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa), 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 was a little scared of this challenge. Oh no! Another thing I have to roll super thin and has a filling, I worried, thinking back to recent baklava and croissant challenges. But this challenge proved to be crazy easy. The dough went together very nicely, although I did use more flour than the recipe called for.  The whole thing took an afternoon of here and there work. The dough rolled and stretched with ease. Next time and yes, yes, yes there will be a next time, I will let the Povitica rest in the pan for longer than 15 minutes. I think it will result in a lighter and airier bread.
The recipe below makes two loaves. I made one using the recommended traditional filling from Daring Bakers. Well, the traditional version uses English walnuts but I used pecans! I love pecans and they worked really well. I made the other using pears and blue cheese. I love this combination and thought it would make an interesting savory /sweet snack to have with cocktails.

The traditional loaf was the favorite. It was the right amount of sweetness and the filling was abundant with perky nuttiness.The pear blue cheese one needs a little tinkering but was still yummy toasted and served with a glass of Sherry. It needed more nuts in the filling. I will play around a bit with it and post again about the results. I am listing the ingredients I used for that filling at the very end of the post but you may want to bump up the nuts a bit.

My Thanksgiving crowd starts to show up around 10am on Turkey Day and I am thrilled to have something to offer them with a steaming cup of coffee. It looks stunning and the taste lives up to its good looks.

Don't be scared.  Give it a try!


Yeast Mixture:
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 ½ gm) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
¼ Cup (60 ml) Warm Water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/¼ oz/1 sachet) Dry Yeast

1 Cup (240 ml) Whole Milk
6 Tablespoons (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) Sugar
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/9 gm/1/3 oz) Table Salt
2 Large Eggs
¼ Cup (60 ml/60 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
4 cups (960 ml/560 gm/19¾ oz/1¼ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

To Activate Yeast:

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

To Make the Dough:

 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.
 In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
 Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
Blend thoroughly and 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.
 Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)

 Place dough in 2 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.

Filling Ingredients -enough filling for the two loaves:To Make the Filling:

3½ Cups (840 ml/560 gm/1¼ lb/20 oz) Ground English Walnuts (or Pecans)
½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/1 stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Whole Egg, Beaten
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup (240 ml/225 gm/8 oz) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) Cinnamon

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 used a flexible pastry mat from King Arthur Flour that worked beautifully for rolling out the dough and rolling up the dough. 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 (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
 Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.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.
 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. 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. 
Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered.
Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
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.
Repeat with remaining loaf.

Dough rolled thinly-I used a rolling pin for it all!
All rolled up


Resting before baking!

Topping: 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.
Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
 Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
 Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
Check the bread every 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.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.
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.


This lasted a nanosecond!

Filling Ingredients for the Pear Version:

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 pears(I used Bosc) peeled and shredded.
2 tbsp lightly beaten egg
1/4 cup milk
4 TBSP butter
2 TBSP crumbled blue cheese

Prepare as method for traditional filling.

Pear/ blue cheese version