Povitica (Eastern European Dessert Bread)

As many of you know I am a self proclaimed non- baker. I think I may be shedding the non-baker persona as I have recently successfully baked a cake and have now baked bread!

One of my Twitter friends, @Sonny_Chia recently sent a link to a blog that highlighted a recipe for Povotica.  I had never heard of it but one look at this beautiful bread and I had to attempt it. I will tell you this was a lot of work. Enough work that throughout the process I kept questioning why I was attempting it! But, I will tell you, the result was so worth the work

I did alter the recipe slightly, including the use of So Delicious' Seasonal Holiday Coconut Nog, which I am pretty much addicted to cooking with at this point! I have made french toast with it, the Povotica and also beignets (stay tuned for the beignet recipe!).

It was so good that, in fact, I am going to do it all over again and bring a loaf to my Mom's for Thanksgiving this year.

I do hope you will give this a try. If you do, please let me know what you think!

Povitica

Getting started (activating the yeast):

1/2 tsp unbleached sugar

1/4 tsp unbleached white flour

2 tbsp warm water

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

For the dough:

1/2 cup r non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Coconut Nog)

3 tbsp unbleached organic sugar

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, melted

1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer whisked with 3 tbsp water

2 cups all purpose flour

For the filling:

1 3/4 cups ground walnuts

1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Coconut Nog)

4 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread

1/2 cup unbleached sugar

1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer whisked with 1 tbsp water

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For rolling:

1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, melted

To finish:

1 tbsp cold strong coffee

1 1/2 tsp unbleached sugar

1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, melted


Activate the Yeast:

In a small bowl, add the sugar, flour and yeast. Add the warm water and cover. Allow to stand for five minutes or until bubbly.

Make the dough:

In a saucepan, heat the non dairy milk until just under boiling. Transfer to a large bowl and allow the non dairy milk to cool to 110 degrees. I used a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Once it reaches 110 degrees add the sugar and salt and stir. Add the whisked Ener-G egg replacer, the yeast mixture and melted Earth Balance. Stir until incorporated. Add the flour to the liquid and stir until a dough is starting to form (it will pull away from the sides of the bowl). Place the dough on a floured board and knead for about five minutes until the dough is very smooth. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let stand 90 minutes or until the dough has risen to about double in size (note: if the dough does not double in size you can tell it is sufficiently risen if when you poke a finger gently into it the dough slowly springs back to its original shape).

For the filling:

In a bowl, mix together the ground nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Heat the non dairy milk and Earth Balance until the Earth Balance is melted. Pour the liquid over the nut mixture. Add the whisked Ener-G egg replacer and the vanilla. Stir to incorporate. Set aside until ready to be spread on the dough.

Roll and assemble the dough:

Spread a clean sheet over a table or other flat work surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and place the dough on the sheet. With a rolling pin, starting in the middle of the dough and working your way out roll the dough until stretched thin and uniformly to at least 12" in length and 7" or so in height. As you work pick the dough up and turn it in order to aid the stretching. Brush gently with the melted Earth Balance. Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Roll the dough tightly. Once rolled place into a lightly greased loaf pan in the shape of a U with the about six inches or so hanging over the edge. Fold those ends in a crisscross over top of the U shaped dough in the pan forming an X over the top. .Cover and allow to sit for an additional 15 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To finish:

Once the rolled and crisscrossed dough has sat for 15 minutes mix the coffee, sugar and melted butter together Uncover the loaf and brush with the coffee mixture. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 and continue to bake for another 50 minutes. Check the loaf toward the end of the baking cycle to make sure the top is not becoming too brown. If it is, cover it with some aluminum foil for the balance of the baking cycle.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 30 minutes while still in the pan. Gently remove from the pan and allow to cool an additional 30 minutes before cutting. You may find it easier to cut using a serrated knife while the loaf is turned upside down.

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