The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. 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.
Jenni thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to learn to make this wonderful sweet bread. The traditional filling for this bread is an English walnut filling but other typical fillings also include apple and cinnamon, apricot preserves, and a sweet cheese like cream cheese. Hazelnut and dark chocolate chips was the combination I used for my very first povitica. The resulting loaf was sweet and tender with delicate swirls of a filling that was vaguely reminiscent of Nutella.
To activate the Yeast
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2¼ gm) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/3½ gm/0.125 oz/½ sachet) Dry Yeast
For the Dough
½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) Sugar
¾ Teaspoon (3¾ ml/9 gm/0.17 oz) Table Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided
For the Filling
1¾ Cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) Ground English Walnuts
¼ Cup (60 ml) Whole Milk
¼ Cup (60 ml/58 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Egg Yolk From A Large Egg, Beaten
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/1 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) Cinnamon
For the Topping
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Cold Strong Coffee
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/7 gm/¼ oz) Granulated Sugar
- To activate yeast, stir sugar, flour and yeast into warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
- For the dough, heat milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on top.
- 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, sugar, and the salt until combined.
- Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1/2 cup (120 ml/70 gm/2.5 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.
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel.
- Let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.
- To make the filling, mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa in a large bowl.
- 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 dough, spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
- Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour. Place the dough on the sheet and roll out with a rolling pin.
- Start in the middle and work your way out, until it is roughly 10-12″ (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.
- As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table 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.
- Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of cold strong coffee and sugar. Cover pan lightly with plastic wrap.
- 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.
- The best way to cut povitica into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.
- Povitica will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature and for 2 weeks if refrigerated.
It can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped a layer of wax paper followed by a layer of aluminum foil.