Archive for October, 2011

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!

Jenni says that:

Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa) is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is traditionally served during the holiday season. It is also known as Nutroll, Potica, Kalachi, Strudia, just to name a few. Family recipes, and the secrets on how to roll the bread so thin, was passed down through generations of families. However, the tradition of baking this type of bread has become somewhat of a dying art form, and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to learn to make this wonderful sweet bread.

She also commented that:

The traditional filling for this bread is an English walnut filling, but other typical fillings also include apple/cinnamon, apricot preserves, and a sweet cheese (like cream cheese).

As my chief taster (husband) is allergic to nuts, I did not use the provided nut recipe. However, I have included it below in case you want to try it.

Jenni provided a recipe which made 4 loaves (recipe follows below). I elected to make a half batch, resulting in 2 loaves.

I decided to make one loaf with a poppy seed mixture and one with roasted pear and caramel. I won’t give you the poppy seed recipe because to be honest it was not nice. I blame my recipe conversion abilities rather than the recipe but since I didn’t do it justice it’s probably best not to share it.  I would happily give you the pear recipe but I didn’t follow one. However that one was delicious. Basically, I peeled, cored and diced 2 pears and 2 apples and roasted them with butter, brandy, brown sugar, cardamon pods, nutmeg and ginger. I then let this cool and mixed it with ricotta cheese. Winner!

Here is the recipe for the dough:

(Smaller batch measurements courtesy of Audax – http://audaxartifex.blogspot.com)

Half Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes two loaves each 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
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

¼ Cup (60 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/14 gm/½ oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Half Batch Filling Ingredients (enough filling for the two loaves)
3½ Cups (840 ml/560 gm/1¼ lb/20 oz) Ground English Walnuts
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

Directions (note that the quantities relate to the full recipe):

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.

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 Filling

10. 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.

The dough - probably not stretched thin enough

23. Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered.

Dough with icky poppyseed filling

24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.

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.

The rolled up pear loaf

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.

The finished loaves

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.

Inner workings of the poppy seed loaf

The poppy seed loaf actually looked quite nice (although a touch dry). However, upon tasting, the reactions went from an anticipatory “oh wow!” to “oh wow…that’s not great“. So unfortunately this ended up in the compost.

Luckily the pear loaf made up for it!

Happy pear

As always, I really enjoyed the challenge of making something I was completely unfamiliar with. And, as always, all mistakes are my own. Thanks for the challenge Jenni!


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I have to say, I was pretty impressed with myself for making croissants. Stunned and amazed at my ability to produce half-arsed pastry items. It’s nice to have low standards sometimes. So the next weekend, faced with a group coming over for brunch and a 3rd birthday party, I made plans to make Christmas cake, gingerbread men and croissants, all using recipes from the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook (which I love so much that half the pages are either stuck together with batter or stained with butter).

I started making the croissant dough on Friday, set for guests arriving on Saturday morning. Then our smallest small person got sick so we postponed brunch, leaving me with a seriously massive quantity of dough and no obvious consumers. However, I decided to make the croissants anyway and try to find homes for them all. Honestly, my arms ached every time I took the dough out of the oven to roll and fold it.

I think I ended up making 32 large plain and chocolate croissants. Unfortunately I only have a dodgy photo from my phone but they were quite tasty, from what I tried (I’m still not a major croissant eater so they mostly went to neighbours). I think they needed to be cooked for longer though. But so fun to make! And good exercise for my arms, which normally get neglected while I run everywhere.


I then made a batch (which was actually a half batch) of gingerbread men, also from the BSB cookbook. I love this recipe as it is quite spicy and has real character to it. I have never made the full recipe as it would make hundreds (slight exaggeration possible) of biscuits.

Here is the finished result. You will note that my icing skills have not improved significantly.

Ninjabread men

Elephants and dinosaurs

The dinosaurs were the most popular biscuit of the 3 with the small boys, who ran around pretending to attack other children with them. I had forgotten though that what small children really like is icing, so there were a few sad, nibbled dinosaurs left over, bereft of their chocolate adornments.

I also made 2 Christmas cakes, which I forgot to photograph. And then I had a nap.

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