I love recipes that look difficult to make, but are actually really easy… like this braided lemon bread. And I love recipes that have a surprise inside, like this purple ombre cake. And I absolutely love recipes that are straightforward – it’s ok if they require more than one bowl or make a mess, as long as they are easy to follow and understand. So, when I saw this beautiful, creative bread called Povitica and saw how simple it was and how awesome it looked inside, I pinned the recipe and vowed to make it someday.
Just a regular loaf or bread… or is it?
I just love surprising people… which is a bit ironic, since I kinda hate being surprised (or rather, spooked since I’ll jump a mile into the air and scream whenever someone sneaks up on me). I especially love surprising people with food, either by making something shockingly beautiful or making something with ingredients and flavor combinations that they would never have expected to go well together (like lime glazed avocado pop-tarts or blueberry basil goat cheese hand pies… I’ll be posting these soon!)
What I love most about this bread is how unassuming it looks. Judging from its exterior, one would guess it’s just a regular old loaf of bread. But once you cut off a slice, it’s like BAM! You’re hit with crazy twists and swirls of walnut filling all throughout the bread. Povitica is basically the funkier cousin of swirl bread.
Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s super straightforward. Povitica is basically a sweet bread dough slathered on with a walnut filling, rolled up and twisted, and then baked in a loaf pan. At first glance, the swirls of filling throughout the bread look fairly complicated, but making them is pretty easy, especially with the help of the step-by-step photos on the Daring Baker’s website. I followed the quarter batch recipe, which makes one loaf. My bread ended up not being twisted that much, probably because I didn’t have enough filling for the swirls to distinctly show, especially near the top. Be warned though, this bread was a little messy, particularly when I rolled up the dough into a log, a lot of the filling spilled out. But hey, that’s the fun part of it. One reason why I like making breads so much is that I get to play with the dough and get my hands dirty. Besides, it doesn’t really matter if your kitchen gets messy because you’re going to have to clean it up in the end anyways.
Adapted from Daring Bakers (Quarter Batch – makes one loaf)
For the dough:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour, measure first then sift, divided
For the filling:
1 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
To make the dough:
1. Proof the yeast by dissolving 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water and sprinkling yeast on top. Let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Heat the milk in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave until scalding.
3. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt.
4. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1 cup of flour.
5. Mix using a wooden spoon and slowly add the remaining flour until the dough starts to come together. (You might not use all of the flour.)
6. Knead the dough on a well-floured surface until dough is smooth and doesn’t stick. Add more flour if needed.
7. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled.
To make the filling:
8. In a large bowl, mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
9. Heat the milk and butter to boiling. (I just heated these in the microwave until hot.)
10. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
11. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
12. Let filling stand at room temperature until it’s ready to be spread on the dough.
To assemble the bread:
13. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle as thin as you can.
14. Spread the filling on top of the dough.
15. Gently roll the dough up into a long log/jelly roll. (The filling will probably get pushed out as you roll it up. Don’t worry about it.)
16. Lift the dough and place the middle in a “U” shape into a greased loaf pan. Tuck the ends into the empty space of the “U” and brush the top with egg wash.
17. Let rest for 15 minutes.
18. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, then bake at 300 for 45 minutes. Check the bread after 30 minutes to see how browned the top is. If it is too brown, you can place aluminum foil on top.
19. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes.
20. Slice off a piece and admire how beautiful your bread is!