With Xak looking to complete one more challenge for his Sabbatical Bread Week, he decided to take on the intriguing yet daunting looking povitica.
What is povitica?
For anyone not familiar with povitica, it’s a lightly sweetened Eastern European bread with swirls of cinnamon and nuts. It’s also pronounced Po-vuh-tee-za not po-vit-i-ca. I have to remind my brain that everytime I read the word.
Povitica is the bread that Great British Bake Off Series 5 contestant Chetna makes as a Signature Bake. It is then revealed as a technical challenge in the very same episode. I am always suspicious of convenient “coincidences” that add drama to a reality TV show. However for GBBO, I do believe this was an actual coincidence. *I want to believe*.
I remember watching this episode and the separate Advanced Dough Masterclass episode where Paul Hollywood breaks down how to bake the povitica “so I could make it at home.” While it looked delicious, both times I shook my head at the amount of work that went into this specific recipe, and wondered the following:
Both times, Xak was watching with me and looked intrigued and deep in thought. This look always means he’s planning the next grocery trip run to pick up ingredients.
That is why I’m not completely surprised Xak was determined to make povitica as a challenge for his Sabbatical Bread Week. Since he had already tackled both sandwich bread, and fig scones (both wonderful items for a tea party), it was time for a coffee time treat.
Previous Attempts at Povitica
Xak has actually already made povitica a few years ago. This was prior to him owning a food processor and prior to him having actual counter space in the kitchen. This was back when Xak had NO hand mixer. (how?)
While the results were still tasty, he could have benefited from working in a kitchen where two people can actually fit. The goal was for 2023 Bread Week povitica to be even more delicious and more successful.
I felt very confident that Xak would achieve his goal. For starters, we received our new Kitchen Aid stand mixer from our wedding registry!! Another benefit was now owning a food processor to help with the nuts! The future was looking sweet. 😋
The Baking Process
Xak likes to wake up early, even on weekends, vacations, and apparently even sabbaticals. Before I could wake up to help photo document this challenge, Xak was already up and making the dough and took on photography duties himself.
The recipe Xak uses also calls for a bedsheet which I found to be very curious. I wondered, is this a new meaning to “let the dough rest?” 🤔
Apparently the bedsheet is needed to help stretch the dough. The whole method seems complex, delicate, and fragile, but I fulfilled my baking apprentice duties of measuring with a tape measure after every roll out and stretch until Xak was ready to bake.
For this recipe, Xak switched out pecans for walnuts since that’s what we had on hand. Thanks to the modern invention of a food processor, we didn’t have to use the rolling pin to smash the nuts this time!
After popping the povitica into the oven for about an hour (with Xak watching attentively to turn down the oven in between), the loaf was finished!
After years of watching Xak bake, I realize bakers have a lot of patience. Many hours go by where all you do is wait for something to happen. Yeast has to activate or the dough needs to chill in the fridge for several hours.
If I declared my own bread week, I would have only chosen quick breads.
For this patience test, the dough had to be completely cool before icing. When I emerged again from my home office, the kitchen was already cleaned and the povitica loaf was sitting comfortably in a box ready to be iced.
Sadly, it was far too late to eat povitica the same day so we decided to eat it the next day for breakfast. The loaf continued to rest in its box until the next day.
The Eating Process
By the time I came down for our weekend Coffee and Trek breakfast (literally watching Star Trek while drinking coffee and eating breakfast), Xak had already taken his leftover sandwich bread and made First Order French Toast (from the Star Wars brunch cookbook), my preferred breakfast of oatmeal with bananas, cranberries, and brown sugar (inspired by Courtyard Marriott’s 6 dish oatmeal), and a thick slice of povitica!
Although povitica is great on its own, I also tried a little salted butter on it. There really is nothing better than a sweet treat with a cup of coffee (or tea).
What a delightful breakfast and a great way to end a successful Sabbatical Bread Week! Thank you Xak for a tasty gluten filled week.
Onto Sabbatical Pastry Week!