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.
Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa) goes by various names, depending on the country you eat it in or where your family is from. If you are Croatian, you probably called it Povitica, and it probably contained walnuts. Since I didn’t have any walnuts, I substituted ground almonds with no problem at all.
I actually almost skipped this month’s challenge. It wasn’t until this morning when I was seconds away from opting out that I decided to make it. I am certainly glad that I changed my mind, after last month’s croissants it was a piece of cake (or nut roll). When I read earlier this month that you had to roll the Povitica dough paper thin and as large as a table before rolling it scared the bejeebus out of me, thus my needless procrastination.
Adapted from Recipe Developed by The Gingered Whisk
Makes 1 Loaf
To start the Yeast
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp warm water
1½ tsp dry active yeast
½ cup 2% milk
3 tbsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 egg, large, beaten
1 tbsp butter, melted (plus another 1 tbsp for rolling)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1¾ cups ground almonds
¼ cup 2% milk
¼ cup butter
1 large egg yolk, beaten
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup white sugar
¼ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp water
1 tbsp melted butter
To make the dough, combine all of the ingredients needed to start the dough and allow to rest for five minutes or so, until the yeast starts to foam and bubble (I did the entire dough in my KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, but it can be done by hand as well). While the yeast is starting, heat the milk in a microwave-safe dish for one minute or just before it starts to boil. Add the butter and stir so it melts and then mix in the beaten egg. After the yeast is ready, add the milk mixture, along with the sugar, salt and 1 cup of the flour. Once the 1 cup of flour is incorporated, add in remaining cup 1/4 cup at a time until a very soft/spongy dough forms. Put dough into a large bowl coated with non-stick spray, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour and a half, or until doubled.
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, sugar, cocoa and cinnamon. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the milk and butter and cook on high for a minute. Pour over dry ingredients, add the beaten egg yolk and vanilla and stir until completely mixed.
When the dough has risen, gently deflate and place onto large floured surface. I followed Jenni’s suggestion of using a clean sheet on top of the kitchen table, using approximately 2 tbsp of flour rubbed into it to create the best non-stick surface EVER! Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 9 x 13, and brush it with 1 tbsp melted butter. Letting it rest whenever it gets too elastic, continue rolling and stretching out the dough until it is as thin as you can get it, and then some more. You should be able to see the pattern of the sheet through the dough (or if you place a magazine under it, be able to read the title). Try not to use too much flour, but keep sprinking throughout the process so nothing sticks. Picking up the sides of the dough will keep it from sticking as well help stretch it out.
Once the dough is rolled, here comes the hardest part (in my opinion), spreading the filling. My filling was pretty thick but I didn’t want to thin it out, instead I dropped tbsp-sized bits of filling all over the dough, spreading it as evenly as I could with an offset spatula which I ran under hot water a couple of times. Once it’s spread as even as you can (it doesn’t have to be perfect, and make sure to leave a 1/2″ rim without any filling on all sides). Roll up starting with the longest side, roll the dough up tightly. Once you have a long rope, fold it in half (like an upside down U). Fit the curved side of the U in a well greased 9 x 5″ loaf pan. Fold the remaining rope up over the bottom layer. It’s hard to explain, but I’m sure if you visit Jenni’s blog, she will have the detailed photos available. I was too covered in flour and delicious almond paste to get my camera out during this step 🙂
Allow the loaf to rest for 15 minutes and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 on middle rack for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking the Povitica for an additional 45 minutes. Brush with melted butter when it comes out of the oven and allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes before removing. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
I urge you to try this, it really doesn’t take too long, or you could buy one and pay $35!