Thursday, 25 September 2014

Technical Thursday: Paul's Povitica

This week's Povitica did to me what the Baked Alaska did to Iain a few weeks ago.

Safe to say, I'm now well acquainted with the bin in the kitchen.

I finally cracked. I muddled my way through the recipe getting more and more frustrated before unceremoniously dumping my efforts in the bin in a suitably dramatic turn of events and immediately starting again from scratch. I hate making any form of dough, and the enriched dough required for this sweet Eastern European Povitica was particularly difficult. The end result wasn't quite as disastrous as I'd envisaged but this definitely wasn't remotely a success either!

I think I've met my match in the Quarter Finals!

The recipe can be found online here, in the GBBO book here, and below with my notes.


For the dough 
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
40g caster sugar
7g salt
10g fast-action yeast
30g unsalted butter, melted
1 large free-range egg, beaten
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
150ml whole milk, warmed

For the filling 
60g unsalted butter
4 tbsp whole milk
280g walnut pieces
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten

To assemble
15g butter, melted
1 free-range egg white, beaten
100g icing sugar


For the dough, tip the flour and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt into one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other.

Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla seeds and warm milk and begin mixing on a slow speed. When the dough starts to come together, mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy.

Tip the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – this will take about an hour. Grease a 1kg/2lb loaf tin with butter.

In the meantime make the filling. Place the butter and milk in a small pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.

Place the walnuts, vanilla seeds, sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl of a food processor and blend to a sandy powder.

Add the egg yolk, milk and butter mixture and pulse to combine. Set aside.

To assemble, spread a clean bed sheet over a kitchen table and dust with flour. Turn the risen dough out onto the sheet and roll out the dough into a large roughly 50x30cm rectangle. Brush the surface with 15g melted butter.

Dust your hands with flour and ease them underneath the dough. Using the backs of your hands, stretch the dough out from the centre until very thin and translucent (you should be able to see the sheet through the dough). The rectangle should measure approximately 1mx60cm.

This is where I had my melt down. My first batch of dough stubbornly stuck to the sheet and then ripped in around 7-8 places despite being ridiculously careful while stretching it. As a result I threw the whole thing away and started again. This time the dough only ripped into a hole in one place, but I don't think that's the end of the world given how bad it was before!

Taking care not to tear the dough, spread the filling over the dough until evenly covered. If the filling has been standing for a long time and is too thick, add a little warm milk to loosen it.

The filling is an absolute nightmare to spread. When I say nightmare, I mean it doesn't spread at all. I followed Martha's example from last night and rolled out small portions of it in-between two layers of cling film and then tried to evenly spread them out on top of the dough. Once in position it's virtually impossible to move the filling without breaking the delicate dough beneath. Mine's very untidy and I hate how it looks but it was the best I could manage!

Starting at the long edge of the dough, gently roll the dough up tightly, like a Swiss roll.

Carefully lift the dough and place one end in the bottom corner of the greased loaf tin. Ease the roll into the base of the tin to form a long ‘U’ shape, then double back laying the roll over the first ‘U’ shape to form a second ‘U’ shape on top.

I can't help but think it looks a lot like an intestine…

Place the loaf tin inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/ 350F/Gas 4. Brush the dough with beaten egg white.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/130C(fan)/300F/Gas 3 and bake for a further 45 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil if the top begins to darken too much.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water to make a runny icing and drizzle it over the povitica. Slice and enjoy.

This was the moment of truth. My Povitica hadn't risen at all really during the second prove, and in the oven it stayed pretty much the same height. Inside the swirls were sort of visible, but they're really squished together which I don't think is right at all!

On the upside, it definitely wasn't raw in the middle!

I don't think there's any way I could label this week a success. From what I can tell, the flavours were okay, but it's weirdly stodgy despite being baked all the way through. It's more of a pudding than a bread, which I don't think is right at all! I don't understand the science behind the whole proving thing or anything to do with dough for that matter, so I need to do some research to work out why it's such a flop, and to ensure I don't make the same mistakes again. I followed the recipe to the letter due to my total lack of intuition and knowledge of dough, but I'm guessing I either under or over proved it and should have adjusted the recommended times accordingly?

Have you made Povitica before or are you a fan of enriched doughs? Do let me know in the comments below if you can offer any tips!

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