Povitica …Daring Bakers October challenge

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!

This might just be my favorite daring bakers challenge yet! The bread recipe makes for a stunning presentation, it works beautifully with both savory and sweet fillings,a great gift idea and it is actually fun to make.

I experimented a little with the recipe. I made the half patch and that gave me 2 big loaves and one small one.

Filling: I filled one with the walnut recipe provided in the challenge, one with Zaatar and one with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil and herbs de province paste and it is actually hard to choose a favorite!

Thickness of the dough: I tried stretching the dough until it was super thin (you can see the filling through the dough) with the zaatar filled loaf. For the walnut filled one, I left the dough slightly thicker and the kids did the sun-dried tomato one so it was pretty thick.I have to say that though the super thin made beautiful patterns when it was cut, I loved the slightly thicker version better. You could taste the bread along with the filling as opposed to a predominant filling  taste with the thin one.

My kids loved deconstructing the zaatar one and eating them as zaatar wheels so I thought I would take a picture of that

Topping:I used melted butter for the zaatar loaf and it gave it a beautiful rich golden brown color, The tomato garlic one was  brushed with milk, it came out lightly golden brown. For the walnut one I used milk and then I also attempted bread painting, which is a form of decorating bread by drawing on it and this is something I will definitely be doing again.The recipe and the step by step to drawing on bread is detailed with the recipe

The only problem I had was that the central past of the walnut loaf didn’t was a little under baked..I baked it the full-time listed in the recipe but still the very center was slightly under baked and the top collapsed a little..didn’t affect the taste though..it was heavenly but I think next time I may have to cook it longer at a slightly lower temperature.

Thank you Jenni for an amazing challenge.I loved every minute of it and I can’t wait to make Povitica again and again.


Half Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes two loaves each 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 ½ gm) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
¼ Cup (60 ml) Warm Water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/¼ oz/1 sachet) Dry Yeast

1 Cup (240 ml) Whole Milk
6 Tablespoons (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) Sugar I only used 5
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/9 gm/1/3 oz) Table Salt
2 Large Eggs
¼ Cup (60 ml/60 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
4 cups (960 ml/560 gm/19¾ oz/1¼ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

¼ Cup (60 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/14 gm/½ oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Half Batch Filling Ingredients (enough filling for the two loaves)
3½ Cups (840 ml/560 gm/1¼ lb/20 oz) Ground English Walnuts
½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk I used 3/4 cup
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/1 stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter I used 3/4 cup (one and a half sticks)
1 Whole Egg, Beaten
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup (240 ml/225 gm/8 oz) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) Cinnamon

 Zaatar filling

Zaater mixed with olive oil until it is of honey consistency

sun-dried tomato filling

sun-dried tomatoes (drained of oil if packed in oil or soaked in water then drained )

one clove garlic

small bunch basil leaves

1 teaspoon herbs de province (or use dried oregano, basil,rosemary and thyme)

olive oil


Pulse all the ingredients in the food processor or blender while drizzling the olive oil until you get a paste consistency



To Activate Yeast:

1. In a small bowl, stir 1 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into 1/4 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/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.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk,6 tablespoons sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1 cup 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. Note: you may need more or less than 4 cups flour according to type of flour you use.
8. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces

9. Place dough in  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.
I then placed the filling in a pot and on medium heat brought it up to a boil while stirring, cooked it for 5  minutes then took it off the heat

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)

I have a marble-topped kitchen table so I sprayed it with oil and spread the dough on it without a sheet or flour

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 (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.

19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) 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 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.

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.
I used a rolling technique explained by Wolf (a wonderful and talented fellow daring baker)

You roll each long end towards the center of the flattened dough..

Then you take the ends and fold them to the center of the rolls.

  It’s easier to pick the whole thing up after you’ve rolled the sides to the center, and position it over your loaf pan so the ends are underneath, then folding them so they are in the bottom of the pan and the top is smooth

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 (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
as mentioned earlier, I used ,melted butter for one, milk for the other two
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
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 slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
33. 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.

34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs 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.
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.

Bread painting

 1 tablespoon instant coffee
hot water
egg yolk

dissolve the coffee in the hot water
allow it to cool
whisk in the egg

when the bread is almost done,draw the pattern you like on the bread using a clean brush and then put it back in the oven for 5 minutes.
if you like the color to be darker draw over the pattern again and put it in the oven for 2 more minutes

I am including the 1/4 recipe that makes one loaf just in case you are tempted to make this but feel intimidated by the amounts…trust me, this is REALLY worth trying

Quarter Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2¼ gm) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/3½ gm/0.125 oz/½ sachet) Dry Yeast

½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) Sugar
¾ Teaspoon (3¾ ml/9 gm/0.17 oz) Table Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon (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, measure first then sift, divided

2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/7 gm/¼ oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Quarter Batch Filling Ingredients (enough filling for one loaf)
1¾ Cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) Ground English Walnuts
¼ Cup (60 ml) Whole Milk
¼ Cup (60 ml/58 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Egg Yolk From A Large Egg, Beaten
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/1 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) Cinnamon

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 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 crumble

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  1. I love that you let your kids do one of the versions! You did an amazingly beautiful and creative job with your poviticas – I love the filling choices you used and your breads came out really beautifully. I agree – they were fun to make and super fun to cut into! As always, awesome job on the challenge.

    • Thank you Shelley
      the kids had a great tome and so did I
      they insisted that their version was the best in all three and that soon they will take over the kitchen lol

  2. This really is a work of art! Beautiful photos.

  3. This is a brilliant post, what a wonderful set of directions and i am so impressed it looks so tasty as well as beautiful and painting the bread with coffee!! wow

  4. Those are beautiful! What a fun challenge, Sawsan. You did a fantastic job, as far as I can tell. :)

  5. These both look incredible! Of course your pictures always does your cooking justice. ;-)

  6. Absolutely Beautiful! I love your photography and your loaves turned out so great! Especially for letting your kids help you :) Great job.

  7. OMG! Poviticas are beautiful on their own but you made yours look even more (I never thought that was possible haha)! And the fillings you chose, wow! Fantastic job!

    • Thank you so much Renata
      I loved the swirly patterns in your bread so much! I think I didn’t spread the filling thin enough so it kind of overwhilmed the swirls in the walnut bread
      Thanks again for your sweet comment

  8. Wow, this bread is beautiful, like a piece of art! Almost too pretty to eat. Take Care

  9. ericasedibles

     /  October 27, 2011

    Your Povitica is beautiful! Great job

  10. All the loaves look beautiful, but the bread painted walnut loaf is truly gorgeous – do you pint the design with milk?

    • Thank you for your sweet comment
      No the pattern is drawn using the coffe egg mixture
      1 tablespoon instant coffee
      hot water
      egg yolk

      dissolve the coffee in the hot water
      allow it to cool
      whisk in the egg

      when the bread is almost done,draw the pattern you like on the bread using a clean brush and then put it back in the oven for 5 minutes.
      if you like the color to be darker draw over the pattern again and put it in the oven for 2 more minutes

  11. Holy cow! I am seriously impressed! I always love your daring bakers’ challenge, but I think this is my favorite to-date. I love that the kids were involved and I love the flavor combos here. I haven’t ever had Zaatar before, but I’ve seen it in recipes and it seems to go along with other things I really enjoy. I bow down to your bread making ability though – truly! And the painting – beautiful! You out did yourself!

    • Thank you so so much for you sweet comment Kristy
      This is my favorite challenge to date too, it was so much fun and it’s so versatile
      Thank you for staying tuned and for your comments that always make my day

  12. What beautiful pictures – and delicious looking loaves! Your dough looks fantastic.

  13. Sawsan you are so talented! Gorgeous breads and I love the bread painting too. I’ll have to try that out sometime. I think I’m going to have to try the sun-dried tomato one soon! :)

  14. this bread looks amazing! and so clever to paint it :)

  15. Such stunning looking Povitica. I would love to try the zaatar one. I enjoyed zaatar some time ago and it would be amazing in a Povitica for sure. Also a good idea to roll from both ends :)

  16. Anonymous

     /  October 27, 2011

    unbelievable Dr …. تسلم ايديك فنانه1

  17. Waow, you have beautifully prepared both povitica(s)!
    I like the designs on the sweet one and…as a big zaatar-addict, I dream of tasting the delicious savoury one!

  18. All of them are gorgeous but I love your “painted” loaf the most.

  19. Wonderful job!!!! Your poviticas look utterly wonderful! You were able to roll the dough out super thin, and got some beautiful swirls for your hard work. I love your savory fillings, and the bread painting is an awesome new trick you have taught us! Great job!

  20. Eva Taylor

     /  October 27, 2011

    Absolutely beautiful, Sawsan. I love the patterns that are made with the rolling and filling.

    • Thank you so much Eva
      Each slice looks different when you cut into it, it is amazing

      • There is a very similar home baked good in Hungary called Beigle (pronounced Bayglee). My mom used to make it every Christmas; it’s usually stuffed with a walnut sugar mix or a poppy seed sugar mix. Maybe I’ll make it this year, but then again, it’s something I used to love, so it’s me that eats it :-(. It’s difficult enough fighting the age/weight thing without baking goods only I love to eat!

      • I know what you mean..sometimes I am stuck with the things I make and no matter how good they taste eating a whole cake or loaf of bread is not good for your hips so I always end up giving things away at work or to friends

  21. jaime

     /  October 27, 2011

    What a beautiful blog and photos. I am inspired by all of your filling options. Thanks for sharing!

  22. I totally agree with you, I loved this challenge and it looks stunning on your pictures.

  23. Crumbs of Love

     /  October 27, 2011

    What great variations you did. Well done! The zatat version sounds divine. They all look beautiful… Best, Sandie

  24. Stunning! I have have never heard of this before, but it is gorgeous and sounds delicious!

  25. your loaves (and pics!) are stunning! they really stood out in the forum! great job!

  26. Everything you made is gorgeous! It was so inspiring to see these pictures on the forum this month :)

  27. What beautiful poviticas! I love the za’atar version. It’s such a great recipe for savoury I agree! :)

  28. HI Sawsan, I left a comment yesterday here, but it seems like it hasn’t been moderated. Maybe it is in a spam folder or something?? Thanks for your lovely comment on mine :) Anyway, if my previous comment has been lost or something, I just wanted to say that you were able to make an amazingly beautiful loaf into an even more beautiful one :) The design on top is so elegant, and your choice of fillings delicious! Congratulations!

    • So sorry Renata, I am behind on moderating comments, I read your comment yesterday and deeply appreciate it .
      Your comments always put a smile on my face because they come from one of the most talented daring bakers I know
      Thank you again for leaving both comments and I am so sorry for being late in the moderation

      • Oh, don’t worry at all, please! I totally understand, I was just worried that the comment could have been lost, it’s happened before. And thanks again for your lovely words, I’m blushin’… :)

      • No thanks required Renata , you totally deserve them :)

  29. I love your flavor combinations, I must give them a try sometime. I agree with you–this is a recipe that will definitely be repeated by so many of us! Thank you for providing pictures for what Wolf was explaining re: rolling up the dough. My brain was in deep freeze, apparently, because I just couldn’t visualize what I was reading, and even Audax’s marvelous illustration was wasted on me. So, thank you! I finally get it!

  30. Oh, and your painting onto the bread is such a marvelous idea…it’s absolutely beautiful!

  31. I’m very impressed with your super efforts I adore the way you got the pattern into the top of the loaf that is so clever and the flavour fillings are so delicious and the colours are so vibrant. A wonderful job on this challenge well done. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  32. I really loved the bread painting. Will try it out the next time I bake bread! Great looking photos and wonderful fillings

  33. Look at that design! Are you kidding me? This is incredible- you far surpassed the challenge my friend! Absolutely beautiful

  34. I am seriously impressed with the recipe, your interpretation, the instructions, the photos….well, everything! I had never heard of this before and it looks wonderful. Well worth the effort I would imagine, congratulations on rising to the (difficult) challenge!

    • I had never heard of it too Tanya but now I am in love with it.
      it is really easier than what the instructions make it look like

  35. Beautiful job as always! I do love your painted design, I used egg white to wash mine, I am thinking I will have to give the coffee and my art skills a go the next time i make some povitica.

  36. Oh, my gosh, you gilded the lily with the artistic topping…just stunning! And all your versions look so unique and delicious! You rocked this challenge!!!

  37. Absolutely beautiful loaves, inside and out! Nice job on the challenge!

  38. What wonderful results – you have put so much effort into the challenge – glad you had so much fun and your family are so lucky to have all that yummyness ! :)

  39. Not only are your recipes delicious sounding, they are amazingly beautiful.

  40. What a beautiful looking loaf. I hadn’t heard of this bread before this challenge now I can’t wait to try it myself

  41. wow lovely !!! art on food is always attractive!!!

  42. Such beautiful loaves! I love the decoration on the top & the fillings sound gorgeous. The picture of the separate wheels of the zaatar loaf is my favourite. You can really see how delicate and perfectly rolled the dough is.

    • Thank you Suz..that one is my favorite two..it is the only one I rolled super thin the other two I wanted to experiment with thicker dough
      Thank you for your sweet comment

  43. Your post on the forums really inspired me while I was making my povitica! The zaatar filling is a brilliant idea– can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment and for linking to my blog and post
      you did a brilliant job on your first challenge and I look forward to following your coming challenges

  44. Gorgeous! Love your flavour combinations, especially the Zaatar! WOW!!

  45. pixilated2

     /  October 31, 2011

    This is so beautiful, I only wish I could make it! ~ Lynda

  46. Lovely bread. Really like it with the zaatar, you did a very good job Sawsan

  47. These are simply fabulous. Once again you have made serious works of art out of each loaf and each photo! I’m certain I will be hopelessly addicted to the zaatar loaf when I get to try it . . . perhaps a bit dangerous for me! :) Thank you for such an inspiring blog, and yet another set of gorgeous recipe variations.

  48. szanter

     /  November 11, 2011

    Congratulations on your lovely cookie! Nice blog! Best regards! Hungary Terike



  49. These are just incredible, Sawsan, and your bread painting really beautiful! Best of all, you’ve broken the process into easy-to-follow steps that even I could follow.

    I’ve not been receiving notification of your postings and, as it turns out, a few others, too. Somehow the mailing frequencies were set to “Never”!?!?! I’ve not abandoned you, dear Lady, but I do have some catching up to do!

    • Thank you so much for reading all the posts and commenting on them.
      That happened to me a couple of weeks ago, something changed in the email settings and I was thinking did everyone go on a vacation all of a sudden
      Thank you again for your time and for every single comment, they mean the world to me

  50. Anonymous

     /  August 26, 2013

    مرحباً٠ صفحتك حلوة كتيير يا ريت عرفتها من زمان كل الوصفات فيها متقنة ومعروضة بشكل محترف ٠ بهنيكي عليها والى الامام٠

  51. مرحباً٠ صفحتك حلوة كتيير يا ريت عرفتها من زمان كل الوصفات فيها متقنة ومعروضة بشكل محترف ٠ بهنيكي عليها والى الامام٠

  1. Braided date bread | Chef in disguise

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