Hi! I am jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Why do people start blogs? It's not exactly a cakewalk (see what I did there?). Blogging requires a lot of focus and creative energy. And a purpose. Why am I starting a blog? I've been baking regularly for the past six years, mostly as a way to balance out a heavy academic life (I am often studying for something). Baking is the opposite of studying: it is a hands-on and intuitive process from which you can actually produce something tangible. Creativity is up to you. So is presentation. So are the flavours! It is exciting and endlessly adaptable, and there is a huge community of bakers out there to learn from.
I want to share what I make, the reasons why I make something, the steps, and some of the important pitfalls or tricks I've learned along the way. If you love butter, you're in the right place.
I'm dedicating my first blog entry to the povitica. It wholly deserves this dedication. Technically challenging breads are right up my alley, and it doesn't get much better than this loaf. It combines the basics of bread baking with some trickier techniques like rolling out the dough so thin, it's almost transparent.
A povitica is an Eastern European sweet bread, similar to the more well-known babka. The most notable thing about the recipe I've used, an adaptation from silver fox, blue-eyed wonder Paul Hollywood, is that one of the tools needed is a bed sheet. A bed sheet. I have never seen this before in any recipe ever, and I still can't for the life of me wrap my head around why parchment paper is not sufficient. I mean, I get it (you don't want the dough to rip and the bed sheet can help ease things along), but I just don't have a bed sheet to spare. Imagine cleaning butter stains out of it!
Don't let this deter you. This is a fantastic loaf that has just the right amount of sweetness. Proofing and baking time all together, this loaf will be ready for you within three hours. The key is not to rush the proofing, because you'll really need to roll this dough out as much as you can to get all four swirls in the bake.
Enjoy this! It won't last long.
Adapted from Paul Hollywood
Servings: 10 slices
Total active time: 1 hour
Total time before mass consumption: 4 hours
300g all-purpose flour
40g granulated sugar
10g instant yeast
30g salted butter, room temperature
1/2 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
150ml whole milk
50g egg (1 large egg)
60g salted butter, room temperature
4-6 tbsp whole milk
1/2 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
100g granulated sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg yolk, beaten
15g salted butter, melted
1 egg white
100g icing sugar
Tools & equipment
stand mixer with dough hook attachment
surface covered with 100cm x 60cm of parchment paper
lightly oiled bowl for proofing
1kg loaf pan, buttered
For the dough, combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the 10g of yeast, being careful to keep it separate from the salt and sugar (these ingredients can interact and stunt the yeast).
Combine the butter, whole milk, and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Heat slowly until the butter is melted and the temperature is between 120ºF – 130ºF.
In the meantime, crack and beat your egg. Have this on standby.
Slowly drizzle the milk and butter mixture into the bowl. Add the egg immediately.
On low speed, mix until the dough comes together.Switch the mixer speed to medium, and knead for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Proof in a lightly oiled bowl for an hour. Do not rush this step! Make sure the dough has doubled in size – that is when it’ll be ready to roll out. This step requires some patience, but trust me, it’s worth it!
Combine the butter and milk in a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat to let cool.
Pulse the walnuts, sugar, and cocoa powder in a food processor. Once you’ve got a fine to medium texture, add the cooled milk/butter mixture and the egg yolk. Pulse again to combine.
Set mixture aside.
Prepare your work surface with parchment paper. It helps to tape the parchment to the bottom or sides of your table/surface.
Roll out the proofed dough to 50cm x 30cm.
Brush the top of the dough with 15g of melted butter.
Using the backs of your hands, gradually pull the dough from the centre until it is an almost transparent rectangle of approximately 100cm x 60cm. Don’t worry too much if the dough tears in certain areas. Because the dough will be rolled up, it won’t make too much of a difference in the structure, as long as there is more dough to cover the hole.
At this point, check the consistency of your mixture. It needs to be spreadable. If it’s a bit dry or looks like it won’t spread easily on delicate dough, add more milk to the mixture, one tablespoon at a time.
Spread the walnut mixture evenly over the dough.
Starting at the long end of the dough, roll the dough up like you would for cinnamon buns or a Swiss roll.
Carefully place one end of the dough into the bottom corner of the tin. Ease the roll into the base of the tin to form a long ‘U’ shape, then double back laying the roll over the first ‘U’ shape to form a second ‘U’ shape on top.
Place the tin inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
After the rise, brush the dough with the beaten egg white and bake the loaf for 15 minutes at 350ºF. If the top of the dough is getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil.
Lower the oven temperature to 300ºF and continue baking for another 45 minutes. The loaf is ready when the internal temperature reaches 195ºF.
Remove from the oven and cool the loaf for 30 minutes before removing it from the tin. Once out of the tin, allow to cool completely.
Mix icing sugar and a couple of teaspoons of water to make a runny icing. Drizzle over the povitica.
Your povitica can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature.