Friday, October 28, 2011

Lebanese Delight and a Daring Baker Challenge

Yesterday was a not so stressful Thursday because my little girl (the one I have to rush back to and bring to her school after bringing her brother to his school) is now on a break  and so are most of the schools here in Manila.  So there wasn't any traffic yesterday.  However, I failed to post this because the boy brought the camera with him and I was too tired to write about it last night.  

This is actually a repeat lunch of Shish Tawook (recipe from Taste of Beirut).  We used chicken leg quarters instead of thigh fillets though and when the boy went home, he complained that I didn't pack enough food for him.  I'm telling you, the boy is growing and shooting up so fast and eating like a full-grown bear now. 

Yesterday's lunch:  Shish Tawook and Turmeric Rice

Povitica--Daring Bakers Challenge for October
I would also like to share in this post my completed project for the latest Daring Bakers challenge which I joined.  This is actually my second project, the first one being croissants.  I joined the sight to flex my baking muscles which have been unused for a bit.  The past couple of months though, I went (still am going through) some sort of baking mania which is good so as not to forget the skills.

This month's challenge is an Eastern European bread called Povitica--something which I have heard of only the day the challenge was posted.  It is a delicious bread filled with a nutty-syrupy filling that fills the entire house with a perfume that makes people say (while drooling)..."What are you making?"  

The Daring Bakers forum helps me challenge myself in learning new things and adapting new skills to use both in my personal and business endeavors.  If you are an avid baker such as myself, you ought to join.  Keeps your baking neurons young!  

Here is the recipe of Povitica from the host of October's challenge, Jenni of the Gingered Whisk:

To activate the Yeast:
2 Teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
½ Cup (120ml) Warm Water
2 Tablespoons (30ml/14 gm/½ oz/2 sachets) Dry Yeast

2 Cups (480ml) Whole Milk
¾ Cup (180 ml/170gm/6 oz) Sugar
3 Teaspoons (15 ml/18 gm/2/3 oz) Table Salt
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup (120ml/115 gm/one stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
8 cups (1.92 l/1.12 kg/39½ oz/2½ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

Walnut Filling:
7 Cups (1.68 l/1.12 kg/2.5 lbs) Ground English Walnuts
1 Cup (240ml) Whole Milk
1 Cup (240ml/225 gm/2 sticks/8 oz) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon (5ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Cups (480ml/450 gm/16 oz) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons (30 ml/28 gm/1 oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

To Activate Yeast:
  1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon 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:
  1. 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. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
  3. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour. 
  4. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
  5. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour
  6. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
  7. 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
  1. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
  2. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
  3. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  5. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
  6. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.
To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
  1. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
  2. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
  3. 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.
  4. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered. 
  9. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
  10. 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.
  11. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
  12. 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.
  13. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
  14. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
  15. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
  16. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
  17. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
See you in the next Daring Bakers Challenge!  :-) 


  1. Both photos got me salivating! Well done on your second challenge! Like you I had no idea what a povitica was until presented during the challenge! x

  2. Hi Nish! I know right? I had initially mentioned that Povitica sounded like a spell from Harry Potter. I should say though that your chocolate chip version is something I'm sure my kids will devour in seconds! Too yummy to even think about. :-) Thanks so much for checking out my little blog. Really appreciate it. Cheers! :-)

  3. I' had not heard of povitica, until today. thanks for introducing it to me, Its sounds lovely.

  4. You're welcome Shaheen. I have the Daring Bakers to thank for it. Thank you for stopping by to have a look at my little blog. Hope you drop by again soon! :-)