Sunday, May 16, 2021

Povitica #BBB A variety of flavors

Our challenge for this month is one I have wanted to make for some time.  Some of the Babes have already made one in the past for a different group.  We will be making a Povitica (poh-vee-TEET-sah) or Potica (poh-TEET-sah).  The Slovenian word poviti means "to envelop", and thus the povitica, referencing the enveloping of the filling within the layers of super thin dough.  Various interpretations of this type of roll can be found historically throughout central Europe dating back to the 16th century.  I have broadened the range of options to include the Polish Makowiec as well as savory versions if desired.  The most traditional filling for poticas is made with ground walnut.  Other fillings include tarragon, quark, hazelnut, pumpkin seed or poppy seed, salted ones even with cracklings or bacon.  Nowadays the choice of filling is limited only by imagination.  I liked the old Slovenian saying that states that anyone who can do a walnut potica deserves the title of  "good cook". 
Blueberry Cream Cheese
It is thought that the rolls were originally created in medieval monasteries. The two most popular methods of shaping were to roll the potica in a circular way like the shell of a snail and bake in a earthenware baking tin.  A style where the poticas are baked in rectangular pans, with the roll usually cut into 2-3 equal pieces, closing the ends and placed inside the pan is usually called Štruklji.

I used the recipe from Bake Street for my loaves.  They have a lovely shaping video here.

Apple Cinnamon
 We would love for you to try this impressive looking and very tasty bread and bake along with us this month!  (It's not as difficult as it looks!)  No blog is necessary to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished povitica to me by the 30th of this month at eleyana (AT) aol (DOT) com.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.
Poppy seed Date
makes 1 loaf


A baking tin 10 x 4 x 3 inches (25 x 11 x 7 cm) (This pan will yield a taller loaf.  My walnut version was baked in a 9x5 and naturally ended up shorter, the rest were baked in an 8x4 pan, which I recommend)
10 oz (285 g) T45 flour (this is essentially a pastry flour, soft wheat - I ground 250g of soft wheat, sifted off 20g of bran, and made up the difference with all purpose flour)
0.05 oz (1.4 g) dry yeast (~½ tsp) (It's fine to use more, up to 1 tsp to help speed the rise)
4.25 oz (120 g) whole milk (I used 2%)
0.5 oz (15 g) water
0.18 oz (5 g) salt
1 large egg (2.1 oz - 60 g)
1.75 oz (50 g) sugar, divided
0.8 oz (22 g) unsalted butter melted and cooled, divided

Traditional Walnut Filling:

9.9 oz (280 g) walnuts
3.35 oz (95 g) sugar
½ Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
0.1 oz (3 g) cinnamon powder
pinch of salt 
2 oz (58 g) unsalted butter
2.1 oz (60 g) whole milk
1 large egg yolk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
For Topping:
0.9 oz (25 g) unsalted butter melted and cooled
icing sugar (optional)

First, make the dough.
In a bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour together with the dry yeast.  Then add the milk, water, egg and salt.
Mix the ingredients in the bowl until a fairly smooth and homogeneous dough is obtained.
Add the sugar in two additions, kneading each time until it is fully integrated.
Knead the dough until it is smooth and silky with at least a medium gluten development.  Work in the butter in about three additions until smooth again.

Knead for about 12-15 minutes to develop the gluten well and obtain an elastic, soft, and very well developed dough.   It may be slightly sticky but should pass the windowpane test.  If it does not, the final stretching will be difficult to achieve without tearing.

When the dough is properly developed, form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles its volume. This can take up to three hours.
Make the filling while the dough is rising.
In a food processor add nuts together with sugar, cinnamon, salt and cocoa powder.  Blend until the nuts are quite finely chopped and transfer to a bowl.
In a saucepan or microwave, heat the milk along with the butter until it just boils. Remove from the heat.
Pour the milk into the nut mixture.  Add the vanilla and the egg yolk and mix until completely homogenized.
Set aside at room temperature, covered, until ready to fill the povitica.
Stretching the dough:
Lay out a sheet or cloth on a wide, flat surface.  (I used a card table and a linen table cloth.)
Sprinkle the work surface very lightly with corn flour.  (I used all purpose.)
Turn out the dough and de-gas it gently.
Roll the dough out into a very thin rectangle with a rolling pin, then continue to carefully stretch with hand to about 25½x18-in. (65 x 45 cm) rectangle.  (The dough should be about three times as long as your pan.  Very gently and slowly work the dough with your hands, stretching from the center to the edges.  It should remain soft and elastic and stretch without tearing as long as the gluten was developed and the process is taken slowly.
Spread the filling.
Drop spoonfuls of the filling evenly across the dough.  Using an offset spatula and/or your hands, spread and distribute the filling evenly across the dough to all but one long edge that will seal after rolling.  The filling may be dense so just go slowly and try not to stretch or tear the dough.
Roll up the dough.
Starting with the long edge that has filling to the edge, roll the dough on itself making sure that there is no gap between each layer. Start at one end and just turn up the edge all the way across.  Then continue to roll from edge to edge carefully and with the help of both hands. 
Once the entire sheet is rolled up, carefully pinch and seal the long edge.
Shape the roll into an S and place it into the pan.  It will take two hands, scoop in from the ends and carefully lift into the pan.  (Other shaping methods including rolling up in a circle like a snail and baking in an earthenware baker, or cutting the roll into sections and lining them up in the loaf pan.  Using sections and a smaller loaf tin will yield a taller loaf.)
Cover with plastic and let the dough rise until the dough has puffed up somewhat. This will be most evident looking at the ends of the dough to see any increase in size. Again, this can take 1-3 hours.
The finer the grind of the walnuts, the easier to spread without tearing.
Add little more cream or milk to thin the filling enough to spread easily.

Bake povitica.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Brush the top of the loaf with half of the butter and place in the center of the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 300ºF and leave for 45 minutes more. The total baking time is 60 minutes.
Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining butter.
Let it rest in the pan for 20 minutes.  Then turn out the loaf and allow to cool completely on a rack.
This loaf should ideally be cut from the bottom to keep it from crumbling.  Excellent with coffee or tea!

This loaf will keep for 4-5 days in a sealed bag or a week in the refrigerator.  It may also be frozen in portions.

Other fillings I tried: 
♦ Blueberry cream cheese
 a combination of epicurious' cream cheese filling recipe mixed with a small batch of simple blueberry quick jam.
A little bit less filling would have made rolling easier
but this turned out phenomenally tasty.  As it was the
filling leaked out the edges a bit, moving to the pan.
This one was an absolute winner, enjoyed and devoured by friends and family with gusto!  These all freeze well too.

♦ Poppy seed

    300 g ground poppy seeds  (That's a lot)
    125 g sugar
    150 ml hot milk
    75 g dates (optional)
    1 tsp vanilla
    pinch salt
Grind poppy seeds in a spice grinder until they are fine, they will change colors from gray to indigo or black in color.  Pit and chop the dates and soak in the hot milk until softened, then blend to a puree.  Mix dry ingredients together and then add milk mixture to it. If it seems too thick, add a little more milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes until a spreadable consistency is achieved.
Poppy seed batch on the left, apple cinnamon on the right.

Apple cinnamon
a layer of homemade apple butter topped with brown sugar and cinnamon
I would definitely use half the amount of poppy seeds next time and double or triple the dates.  I added quite a bit of milk to make it more spreadable.  It did yield a beautifully swirled filling!  Very good heated and butter spread on top.  The apple cinnamon was a treat, excellent flavor and good cold or warm, or as a dessert with ice cream or whipped cream.
Used up some older apples, some fresh grated ginger, a couple tbsp
brown sugar, and a cinnamon stick.  Crock pot cook with the occasional
stir until thick and creamy.  Use a hand blender to smooth if desired.

If you are looking for more savory ideas, there are any options you can think of but I also found references for bacon, egg and walnut. A simple povitica (prosta povitica) is just lard, salt and eggs washed on and rolled up.  (That is a fascinating video to watch!)  A very unique filling listed here is a Beetroot, cheese and caramelised onion filling using beet marmalade.
The rest of the Bread Baking Babes



Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Modern Art Floral Surprise Bread #BreadBakers

Sometimes you just have to attempt things.  It's fun and it's how you learn.  I have seen some pretty cool bakers who have figured out how to bake pictures right into their bread.  Some are pretty darned ornate and impressive!  I decided to go with something simple, like a flower.  Well it didn't exactly turn out precisely like a flower!  Maybe a Starry Night interpretation?  Or a nerve axon or cellular structure?  There aren't exactly many tutorials out there on just how to make it work.  And bread dough is a little more challenging to work with than say, cookie dough or even hard candy in terms of putting/keeping the pattern together because not only is it rising, it doesn't stick together to maintain the pieces like candy and cookie dough.  Not without help.  So  I get the concept, I just need to work on the execution.  By the way, watch a video on how they make the little hard candies with pictures in them, it's cool.

Does it help if I turn it stem down?  No?
This is a bread Rorschach! ♥

 Anyway, this was a fun baking experience and definitely a surprise inside, which was our Bread Bakers theme from host, Passion Kneaded.  I went with a pattern though we could have done a filling as well.  Now that I have done one loaf, and it sure was fun breaking in my milk bread pan, I have a better idea on how to make a pattern work next time. Definitely need water or a slurry to hold my ropes together.  And smaller pieces.  And more border.  But it was still so fun!  I love baking experiments.


The one thing that particularly helps a pattern loaf where the picture would be deformed by rising in a standard tin is by using a pullman pan with a lid or, in my case, a milk loaf tin that yields a round(ish) loaf.  I will certainly be trying again with both!  This recipe is made to fit the round milk loaf tin perfectly and yields a beautifully textured loaf with a nice close crumb and delicate flavor.  (No, the colors I used did not add any flavor.)

Modern Art Milk Loaf
makes a 1 pound loaf


450g strong white bread flour
2¼ tsp (7g) instant yeast
250-300 ml warm milk
25g melted butter
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp honey


Place all the ingredients (using 250 ml of milk initially), into a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.  Mix on low for 5 minutes to 7 minutes.  If dough is too dry, add a little more milk by tbsp until it is somewhat firm but not stiff.  Then knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. 

Butter a 450g/1 lb milk loaf tin or pullman pan.

Once the dough is kneaded, take it out of the mixer bowl and shape it on a floured board.  For a plain loaf, fold in the sides and shape into a roll the length of the milk loaf tin.  Place the loaf in the mold and cover and fasten the lid.  Place the tin in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until the dough has reached the top of the tin.  In my tin there are two peep holes on the lid to check.  You have to be more careful with a pullman pan and leave a smidge of an inch open to check.  Opening the lid a lot could stretch and deflate the dough if it is touching.

To make my patterned loaf, I divided up the dough into portions just first generally by eye and then by weight for each separate colored piece.  I colored with turmeric, spirulina powder, and blue butterfly pea flower powder, working in small amounts of the powders with a few drops of water and kneading them in.  The amounts depend on the chosen pattern.  I know next time I need smaller center and petal ropes and more and thicker border pieces and maybe no stem.  A complex picture requires a lot of planning and putting together rope sections.  (Watch those candy videos!)  Then you wrap the whole thing in a final piece of dough and then into the tin to rise.)

Bake in a pre-heated oven 390ºF/200ºC for 30 to 35 minutes.  Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes in the tin, and then carefully open the tin and turn out the loaf on a wire rack to cool completely.


For the milk loaf tin you can slice along the indented lines to get about 20 slices of bread!  They make fantastic toast.  Or cut larger if desired for sandwiches or to taste.  I want to turn some into floral French toast! 

Be sure to check out our other surprising bakes! #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.  We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

It did indeed make fantastic French toast!