It’s Bread Baking Babes time of the month again. This time Kelly picked the Povitica or Potica for us to bake and I made a Coffee and Walnut Povitica. Potica is Slovenian and Povitica is Croatian but otherwise more or less the same thing. Povitica is a yeasted coffee cake with a sweet nut filling.
Povitica dough contains much less butter and eggs than most enriched doughs. It is typically about five inches tall, made from a sweet dough rolled very thin and spread with a ground sweet walnut-cinnamon paste. This is then rolled up, folded into an “S” or ring shape and baked. Shaping this way creates alternating layers of bread and the sweet nut-spice filling. So every slice would display attractive swirls of dark and light layers.
A lot of people describe the Povitica as a nut roll, but it is so much more than that. According to Betsy Oppenneer, author of Celebration Breads, Povitica is to Slovenia what apple pie is to America. The word Povitica comes from the Slovenian word poviti meaning “something rolled in”. This yeasted cake can be found across central and eastern European countries like the Ukraine, Poland, Yugoslavia all claiming it as their own. They make them with different sweet and savoury fillings like nuts (walnuts mostly), honey, poppy seeds, raisins, chocolate, herbs, cottage cheese, etc. Povitica is usually served at holidays, particularly Christmas and Easter, and occasions.
Originally, there were no moulds for baking. So breads and yeasted cakes like this were shaped and baked free form. Poorer sections of society couldn’t afford nuts So they made Povitica from three types of dough-one of white flour, one from rye flour, and one made maize giving an appearance of filling. This type of bread was called mottled bread.
I have baked Povitica a few times years ago when I was part of a now defunct group of global baking group called The Daring Bakers. If you go back to my older posts, you will find this Hazelnut Chocolate Povitica I made then. Both recipes are different but equally good. That one has a hazelnut and chocolate filling. It also uses egg and is shaped in the traditional “S”. This one is egg free with a non-traditional coffee cream and walnut filling. It’s also shaped in a snail-like circle.
We’re in a covid lockdown situation here, once again. I’m trying to use up whatever I have on hand. This led to my decision to use a coffee and walnut filling with paneer, a fresh Indian milk cheese. I ground broken walnuts and sugar together. Then I made a coffee cream by blending together crumbled paneer, a little milk, instant coffee powder, and vanilla extract. I have heard people say they would take their coffee any way they can get it. If you’re one of those people, then this one is definitely for you.
This Coffee and Walnut Povitica is adapted from Kelly’s recipe. The dough will fit a 10 x 4 x 3-inch rectangular loaf pan. If you don’t have that you can use an 8-inch cake tin like I did. A 9-inch cake tin will give you a rather flat Povitica. This yeasted cake will keep for a week in the refrigerator.
Coffee Walnut Povitica
For the Dough :
- 3/4 tsp dry yeast
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 to 3 tbsp water
- 2 cups scant all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 25 gm unsalted butter melted and cooled
For the Filling :
The Coffee Cream :
- 175 gm crumbled paneer I used Amul
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp instant coffee powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
The Walnut Mixture ;
- 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup scant sugar
For Brushing on the Loaf :
- 20 gm unsalted butter melted and cooled
- First, make the dough. Combine the flour with the yeast in a bowl or stand mixer. Then add the milk, water sugar, salt and melted butter. Knead till you have a smooth, soft and elastic dough that is very slightly sticky. The gluten should develop well and your dough should pass the “window pane” test. This is important to roll the dough out thin later, without tearing it.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles its volume. This could take up to two to three hours.
- Make the filling while the dough is rising. Grind the walnuts with the sugar till finely chopped. Remove to a bowl. Then blend the crumbled paneer, sugar, instant coffee powder, vanilla extract and enough milk to make a smooth thick cream like paste. Set aside.
- Once the dough has risen, it has to be stretched. Lay out a thin cotton sheet or cloth on a wide, flat surface. You can also just use your work surface like I did. The cloth makes it easier to roll the dough later though. Sprinkle the work surface very lightly with flour.
- Turn out the dough and de-gas it gently. Roll the dough out into a very thin rectangle with a rolling pin, then continue to carefully stretch with hand to about 25.5 x 18-inch (65 x 45 cm) rectangle. (The dough should be about three times as long as your pan, if using a loaf tin.)
- Very gently and slowly work the dough with your hands, stretching from the center to the edges. It should remain soft and elastic and stretch without tearing as long as the gluten was developed and the process is taken slowly.
- Now spread the filling. Drop spoonfuls of the coffee cream all over the dough. Smooth the cream uniformly with an offset spatula, back of a spoon or your fingertips, all over leaving a little space on the edges. Try not to stretch or tear the dough. Then uniformly sprinkle the walnut-sugar mixture over this.
- Roll up the dough. Starting with the long edge, roll the dough tightly on itself, making sure that there is no gap between each layer. Continue to roll from edge to edge carefully and with the help of both hands.
- Once the dough is completely rolled up, carefully pinch and seal the long edge. Shape into a circle like snail, and carefully transfer this, with both hands, into a lightly greased 8-inch cake tin. Otherwise shape the dough into an “S” and place in a loaf tin.
- Cover with plastic and let the dough rise until it has puffed up somewhat and filled out the pan. This could take about an hour or so.
- Bake the Povitica at 180C (350F for about 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 160C (320F) and bake for another 45 minutes or till done and golden brown in colour.
- Remove from the oven and brush with melted and cooled butter. Let it rest in the pan for 20 minutes. Then turn out the loaf and allow to cool completely on a rack. Cut and serve with coffee or tea. This loaf will keep for a week in the refrigerator.