Sunday, October 16, 2011

Poviticia for World Bread Day 2011

Today is World Bread Day and I want to bake something special.

Zorra, the founder of World Bread Day, says: 'October 16 is a day that should heighten our awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Of course we can not solve this problem by baking a bread, but perhaps some of us will share their baked bread with someone who is not as lucky as we are'. Thanks Zorra for this great initiative! 

When we were in Holland we visited Peter’s daughter, Nieke and her husband Miron and their daughter Stella. There we also met Visnja, Nieke’s Croatian mother in law. We talked about baking bread and she told me about Poviticia, Croatian walnut bread. She told me that her father loved this bread, but her mother couldn't bake it. I told her I would (try to) bake it for them; Nieke, Miron, Stella and Visnja. Because we can’t give them the real bread, we will share it with friends from other countries. This way, more people will enjoy this Croatian Poviticia. Visnja told me Poviticia means simple bread, and I can tell you its fun to make.

Sharing the bread was fun too. I used 1/3 of the original recipe and this got us a big sweet bread; more than enough to share. The first piece was shared with Dutch and Canadian friends in Thailand. The second piece we shared with Australian and Japanese friends. And the third part we shared with Thai and Burmees people who normally don’t eat much bread.  
The taste was good. I have no idea if it tasted like the original Croatian Poviticia, but all who ate this sweet bread, liked it a lot. Maybe one day I can bake it for Nieke, Miron, Stella and Visnja? It would be nice to eat this festive bread together.

This bread is a nostalgic favorite of many Eastern Europeans. Also known as Orehnjača (walnut bread) and Makovnjača (poppy seed bread) in Croatia, Povitica is a favorite of many other neighboring cultures. Known also as Potica in Slovenia and Orechovnik in Slovakia. Recipes vary from region to region and family to family.

I found a page of Glina Crawford who used her grandmother’s Croatian recipe. I used this recipe and added two ingredients for the filling. 

Glinda writes: ‘Povitica is a highly sophisticated craft which takes a long time to make. It would surely help if the maker had skill in making Sweet Yeast Breads. If you are trying it out, I would suggest making a half or even a quarter batch, which is what I did until I got it just the way I wanted (which meant in the traditon of my Croatian relatives). Otherwise, you have a whole lot of something which isn't quite the way you'd like’. 
Since this is the first time I’m making Poviticia and have no clue how it should taste, I just go for it. Luckily I was skilled enough to make good dough. I could roll it out to 88 cm x 55 cm. And it was as thin as Glinda wants it to be.

But my problem started with the filling. The recipe called for milk and with this my problem started. Glinda writes you don’t need all the fluid when you go for the filling of apple and raisins, so I used only halve the amount she suggested. Still the filling was as wet as water. I added more sugar and used beaten egg white to add more volume to the filling, but nothing helped. It was thin and stayed thin. I decided to use my colander and drain most of the fluid and use the rest. This worked.

This is what I used for the bread: (1/3 of the original recipe)

40 gr milk, scalded and cooled
120 gr warm water
3 gr 2 Tablespoons Dry Yeast
1 Egg, beaten
23 gr oil (I use butter)
15 gr sugar
2.5 gr salt
250 gr all purpose flour (I used with my kind of all purpose flour)

150 gr apple and raisins
40 gr milk, scalded and cooled
1 Egg, yolk and white separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
80 gr sugar
40 gr honey (extra)
pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon (extra)
1 Tbsp vanilla

strong cold coffee
5 gr sugar

After baking:
melted butter

This is what I did:

The instructions of Glinda on making the bread were very short (mix bread in usual way. Let rise 1 1/2 hours until double. So I used my own experience for sweet dough.

Heat the milk until just warm; add the water and the butter, set aside. In a bowl mix the flour, yeast sugar and salt. Fold in milk-mixture and beaten egg. It will be sticky dough but don’t be tempted to add more flour. By stretching and folding it over onto itself, trapping air, and the dough will become cohesive and supple. Slide your fingers underneath the dough. Lift the dough, letting dough hang slightly. In a continuous motion, swing dough down, slapping bottom of dough onto surface, then stretch dough up and back over itself in an arc to trap in air. Repeat this until the dough is supple and cohesive.

Form into a ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Mix all ingredients for the filling. As I said before my filling was too wet and I had to drain most of the fluid. In another recipe they used butter, maybe this is the trick? Give it a try and please let me know.

Here comes the fun-part. On a large flat surface, roll dough from middle to edge. I used a little bit of flour to prevent the dough from sticking too much to the counter.  Stretch until it falls off the table. ‘The real trick of making Povitica is to roll it thin. And when you think it is thin enough, you should probably make it thinner. The dough should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the surface underneath. Be careful not to tear’.
Distribute the filling evenly over the dough. 
Roll up the dough. 
Place on parchment paper or in a pan shaped like a horseshoe. 
Let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Even though I forgot this step, the bread turned out beautiful.

In the meantime preheat the oven to 175˚C/350˚F. When done, carefully brush with cold strong coffee and sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes at 175˚C/350˚F; then for 45 minutes at 150˚C/300˚F or until done.

Remove from the oven. Brush with melted butter. Let cool completely before eating, if you can.
I found this recipe of Glina Crawford Butterfly Hill Farm 
I baked this Poviticia for Zorra's World Bread Day 2011


  1. What a wonderful sweet loaf! I am sure you have many happy friends, after feeding them this delicacy. ;-) Thank you for participating in World Bread Day 2011.

  2. waou !! your povitika is wonderful!!
    I made this month povitica filled with walnut paste and a little cocoa .I love so much this délicious brioche!
    Thank you Connie for your visite and for your nice comment!

  3. Thanks Kouky, it fun to make and there will be another poviticia coming out of my oven. Maybe with walnut paste?

  4. I don't know what to tell you about the filling. I am a bit embarrassed to say that my daughter and I have not tested the Apple version fully, but that would surely be the case. (Our standards are Walnut--but far tops, and Apricot, which we love as well. I do know that the times I have tried Apple, it is very much like my Grandmother's. The end product is a little wetter than I would like. I have not had time to "sit with this one". But would like to. Glad you are taking time to do it. I should probably "pull the plug" on that part of the Povitica entry. Sounds like you had fun. Glad (humbled) I could be a part at least in some small way. We are entering the calendar time (Nov and Dec) when we get a lot of hits on the blog for povitica. Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Easter are times when my Grandmother would have made it. Enjoy...