Monday, February 11, 2013

Povitica, Croatian Walnut Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours
Yield: Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams

Povitica is traditional Eastern European dessert bread served during the holiday season.This walnut version, a Croatian Walnut Bread, is rolled yeast bread made of sweet dough slathered generously with a delicious walnut/chocolate/vanilla filling. It's worth every bit of effort!
To activate the Yeast:
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp warm water
1½ tsp dry yeast
{I made this in the Thermomix}
½ Cup (120 ml) 2% milk
3 tbsp (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 vanilla bean,scraped
1 tbsp (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) all-purpose flour
1 egg white, beaten with fork
1½ tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp melted butter
Filling Ingredients {for one loaf}
1¾ cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) walnuts, ground
¼ cup (60 ml) 2% milk
¼ Cup (60 ml/58 gm/½ stick/2 oz) unsalted butter
1 egg yolk, beaten with fork
½ vanilla bean, scraped
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    To Activate Yeast:
  1. In a small bowl, stir sugar, flour, and the yeast into warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  3. To Make the Dough:
  4. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.{I just heated it to 'hot enough' in the microwave}
  5. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, sugar, and the salt until combined.
  6. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups of flour.
  7. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl
  8. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.
  9. Dough in Thermomix:
  10. Place all ingredients in bowl of TM. Process at Speed 6 for 6 seconds, and then knead for 2 minutes. Done!
  11. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.{Mine tripled}
  12. To Make the Filling
  13. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar and cocoa. {I whizzed the walnuts, cocoa, scraped vanilla bean and sugar in the Thermomix}
  14. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
  15. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
  16. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  17. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
  18. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk {This is important}
  19. To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
  20. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
  21. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour {use flour sparingly}
  22. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches in diameter
  23. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of melted butter on top.{I forgot to do this}
  24. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
  25. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
  26. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
  27. Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered. {It should spread easily else the dough will tear. Mine did as the filling was initially a bit thick}
  28. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll
  29. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced
  30. Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar. {Original recipe uses strong coffee instead of egg white}
  31. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
  32. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C.
  33. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
  34. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 150°C and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done. {Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.}
  35. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
  36. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread is heavy about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.
  37. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.
  38. Changes I made:
  39. Used a scraped vanilla bean in both the dough and filling, increased the rising time, used more cocoa, didn't use cinnamon, used an egg white wash instead of coffee {and placed the dough in the loaf pan all wrong!}.
  40. Storage:
  41. There are several options for storing Povitica:
  42. • The Povitica will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature.
  43. • The Povitica will keep fresh for 2 weeks if refrigerated.
  44. • The Povitica can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped a layer of wax paper followed by a layer of aluminum foil. It is recommended to not freeze Povitica with cream cheese fillings as it doesn’t hold up to being thawed really well – it crumbles


  1. That looks amazing. Thanks for including the recipe especially for including weight measurements :-)

  2. So beautiful! And what can be better than a combination of sweet yeast dough, chocolate and nuts? And I second HanaĆ¢, volume weights are so variable. (1 cup of my old AP-flour weighs 113 g, 1 cup of my new delivery 133 g!)

  3. Oh my goodness! I grew up eating this bread. Sometimes my grandmother would make it. Thanks for the recipe! YUMMY


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