After making the Challah bread I didn’t think I could make prettier bread than that. The challah bread just has such a lovely appearance with its braided design; it truly is a show- stopper. Well, you know what, I was wrong. THIS is the prettiest bread I have made… to date!
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 am sure like many of you, I have never heard of Povitica bread. So when I saw that it was this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, I was truly excited! I love making bread, especially when they are more involved. Getting in the kitchen and getting my hands dirty (and clothes… I have like 10 aprons and never seem to put any on when baking… dumb!) is so much fun for me. And this bread took just enough time and was just enough involved to satisfy my bread baking needs.
What makes Povitica bread so special is its beautiful circular design. Thin dough is stuffed with a delicious sweet Walnut filling that is then rolled up into a long rope. The rope is wrapped around itself in a bread pan, which allows the bread to bake together and create separate circular designs in the bread.
The process of making this bread seems long and complicated but it isn’t as hard at it looks. At first look, it seems like creating that beautiful design would take forever and be super complicated, however I am here to tell you that it’s not! After creating the dough, which starts out just like any other bread recipe, the hardest part of the recipe is rolling out the dough very thin. You use your hands to stretch out the dough to get it so thin that you can see your hand through it. Then you spread the filling over the entire surface of the dough and roll the dough into a long rope. After that it’s clear sailing.
See not that hard!
This recipe makes 2 loaves. It may seem like a lot, and you may be tempted to cut the recipe in half and make 2, but don’t! This bread goes fast… Trust me. I did want to add a small variation on tone of the loaves, so I filled one loaf with the sweet walnut filling, and then the other with a cinnamon sugar mixture. Both were amazing! Feel free to make any variation of filling that you create, sweet or savory.
This recipe isn’t just stunning looking, its delicious too. It’s sweet and moist and really packs a lot of flavor. For sweet bread it has just enough sweetness to be enjoyed at anytime of the day, not just for desert. It would great in the morning with your cup of tea or coffee, or as an afternoon snack.
When I sliced into this bread I was in awe, truly in awe. Bake this bread and you will feel the same way. It’s such a great feeling when you put love and hard work into creating something and the outcome is even more wonderful and perfect then you could have hoped for! Enjoy
Povitica (Eastern European Dessert Bread)
For Printable Recipe, Click here!
Makes: 2 loaves
To Activate the Yeast
1 tsp. Sugar
½ tsp. All Purpose Flour
¼ cup Warm Water
1 tbsp. (1 envelope) Dry Yeast
For the Dough
1 cup Whole Milk
6 tbsp. Sugar
1 ½ tsp. Salt
2 Eggs, Beaten
¼ cup Unsalted Butter, Melted
4 cups All Purpose Flour
For the Filling
3½ Ground Walnuts
½ cup Whole Milk
½ cup Unsalted Butter
1 Egg, Beaten
½ tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup Sugar
½ tsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ tsp. Cinnamon
For the Topping
¼ cup Cold Strong Coffee
1 tbsp. Sugar
To activate the yeast, place ¼ cup of warm water into a small. Add the 1 teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon of flour, and the yeast and stir to combine. Cover the small bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes.
To make the dough, heat the milk in a small saucepan until it reaches 180 degrees F (just before the boiling point), stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the stove and let it sit until it reaches 110 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together the heated milk, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and the salt. Add the eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1 cup of flour. Mix together and then add the remaining 3 cups of flour. Continue mixing until the dough starts to come together.
Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, adding flour as needed, until it becomes smooth and elastic and does not stick.
Divide the dough into 2 equal balls of dough. Place each ball of dough into a lightly oiled large bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1½ hours.
To make the filling, whisk together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa in a large bowl. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan until it begins to boil. Pour the heated liquid over the walnut mixture. Add the egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Allow the filling to sit until it reaches room temperature.
To roll out the dough, spread a large clean tablecloth over a large surface. Sprinkle some flour over the entire surface. Turn out one ball of dough onto the sheet and roll out the dough, using a rolling pin, until it measures about 12 inches in diameter. Spread a thin layer of about 1 teaspoons of melted butter on top of the dough. With your hands, carefully stretch the dough until it becomes very thin (thin enough that you can see your hand through the dough). While you are stretching out the dough, be sure to pick up the dough ever so often so it does not stick.
To assemble the dough, spread half of the filling onto the entire surface of the dough. Starting from one end of the dough, carefully roll up the dough like a jelly roll (or how you roll up cinnamon rolls). Once the dough is rolled up, carefully stretch the rope of dough from end-to-end to make the dough longer.
To place the dough into the pan, carefully pick up the dough and place it in a greased bread pan in a “U” shape (with the bottom of the U fitting in the bottom end of the pan). Pick up one side of the U and place in the center of the U. Take the other end of the dough and bring it over on top of the other side of dough. Basically you are coiling the dough around itself.
Repeat the rolling out and assembly process with the other ball of dough.
For the topping, mix together ¼ cup of cold coffee and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Brush the top of each loaf with this mixture. You can also use a simple egg white wash to top the dough instead.
Cover each loaf pan with plastic wrap and allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to the 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap from the pans and place the loaves in the oven. After baking for 15 minutes, turn down the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake the bread until the tops turn golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven and lightly brush with melted butter. Allow the loaves to cool completely in the pans. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
This bread will last about 1 week in a sealed container at room temperature. If refrigerated, it will last about 2 weeks.
Recipe from Jenni at the Gingered Whisk.