Thursday, October 27, 2011

Povitica: Daring Bakers'

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk.  Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!


Ingredients (to make 4 loaves)

To activate the Yeast:

2 tsp sugar
1 tsp flour
½ cup warm water
2 Tbsp dry yeast


2 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
3 tsp salt
4 large eggs
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
8 cups flour, measure first then sift, divided

Walnut Filling:

7 cups ground walnuts
1 cup whole milk
1 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon


½ cup cold strong coffee
2 Tbsp sugar
melted butter


To Activate the Yeast:

1. In a small bowl, stir 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

To Make the Dough:
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F), 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.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups of flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.
8. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds).
9. Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, 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.

To Make the Filling:
10. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly).
18. 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.
19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 tsp of melted butter on top.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. When you think 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.
23. Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered.
24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
25. 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.
26. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
27. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup of cold STRONG coffee and 2 Tbsp of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to 350°F.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to 300°F and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. After about 30 minutes check to see if the bread is getting brown and if so, you may want to cover the loaves with foil.
33. After you have completed cooking, remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
34. Allow to cool on a wire rack (still in the pan) for 20-30 minutes. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 pounds 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.
35. 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.


There are several options for storing (and eating) your four loaves of Povitica:

• The Povitica will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature.
• The Povitica will keep fresh for 2 weeks if refrigerated.
• The Povitica can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped in 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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hamburger Cookies

Do not be fooled.  These are in fact cookies that look like hamburgers.  Oh yes, believe it.  They are real.  They are adorable.  And most importantly, they are delicious.

I first spotted a Hamburger Cookie a little over a year ago at my cousin's (wedding) cookie table.  Ever since then I have wanted an excuse to give these a try.

Thankfully my excuse finally came!  A colleague ordered a dozen for his nephew's birthday; and while the nephew may have still asked, "where's my truck?," I was told that the adults enjoyed these little treats.  They really are so fun to look at and are a cinch to make.

Hamburger Cookies
adapted from taste of home


48 Nilla Wafer Cookies
24 mini peppermint patties
1/4-1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 can vanilla frosting
1/2-1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Red, Yellow, and Green food coloring
1 egg white *optional 


Spoon out half of the frosting into one bowl and the rest in another.  Drop the red food coloring in the first bowl and mix.  Continue to drop the coloring until the desired color is reached.  Repeat with the yellow coloring in the second bowl.

Pour the shredded coconut into a third bowl.  Drop the green food coloring and mix.  Continue to drop the coloring until the desired color is reached.

Lay out all of the Nilla Wafers, curved side down, on a cutting board or large plate.  Using a knife, dab a bit of frosting (does not matter if it's the red or yellow) on 24 of the Wafers.  This helps to secure the peppermint pattie.  

Unwrap the 24 peppermint patties and place on top of each Wafer with the dab of frosting.  Carefully spread a bit of red frosting on half of each pattie.  Repeat with the yellow frosting on the other half.  Take the coconut and sprinkle on top of each pattie.  Place the remaining Wafers on top of the patties.

Now you can dab a tiny bit of either egg white or water on the top of each Wafer and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Let stand for about 30 minutes to an hour in order for the cookie to stick together.    

(makes 24 cookies)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cap'n Crunch Cookies

When is the last time you had Cap'n Crunch cereal?  Before these cookies my answer would have been sometime in Middle School!  I really do not eat too much cereal nowadays, but these cookies may have changed my breakfast routine.

Cap'n Crunch happens to be the favorite cereal of one of my (adult) cousins who lives nearby.  It just so happened that a few days after I came across this recipe Cap'n Crunch came up in conversation.  I had an AH-HAH moment and realized this is what I would bake for him as a congratulations for making partner in his cardiology practice.

I appreciate my one cousin's honesty that cake pops are still his favorite item that I make, but my other cousin said these were his all-time favorite.  The sweetness and crunch of the cereal combined with the browned butter makes these cookies spectacular.  The outside was crunchy but the inside was slightly chewy.  Oh my, I think I may need to go grab one right now!

Cap'n Crunch Cookies
adapted from Bourbonnatrix Bakes
(4 PointsPlus per serving)


2 cups Cap'n Crunch cereal, divided
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Process 1 1/4 cups Cap'n Crunch cereal in a food processor until finely ground.

Melt 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, until butter foams and turns light golden brown.  You will see golden brown specs in your pan and also smell a nutty aroma.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the browned butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined and grainy.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, egg, baking soda and salt and beat an additional 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in the processed Cap'n Crunch cereal and 1 cup cake flour until just combined.  Take the remaining Cap'n Crunch cereal and crush in a ziploc bag making sure to break in smaller pieces but leaving enough chunks that you'll be able to see the cereal in the batter.  Stir the remaining cereal into the batter until combined.

Portion dough into 2-3 Tbsp sized balls, and place on cookie sheet.  Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 17-18 cookies.  (1 cooking = 1 serving, 4 PointsPlus per serving)

I just love the photograph below!