Poland: Povitica

Polaaaaand!!

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Once again, I am shown how little I know about most European countries, as I make my way through another one that I know very little about. Here is the extent of my knowledge/experiences having to do with Poland:
->Auschwitz, and other very sad Holocaust history 😦
->I interviewed and staged at a Polish bakery once here in Chicago. It seemed like a nice place- very successful- but wasn’t a good fit for me personally. I was surprised when I got there to find that only one other employee spoke fluent English, the rest spoke Spanish or Polish. So that was interesting! I’ve learned there’s actually quite the Polish population in Chicago!
-> I know like three phrases in Polish, through a slightly bizarre and roundabout source! There is this Canadian couple who have a Youtube channel called Eat Your Kimchi (now Eat Your Sushi) and they lived in South Korea for a number of years and made vlogs about their experiences (I also lived in Korea for a few years, so that’s why this was of interest to me). They now live in Japan, thus their channel is now “Eat Your Sushi.” Anyway, turns out the husband of the couple, Simon, has Polish roots and knows a bit of Polish, and every once in a while when they interviewed a Korean pop star or musician, he would teach them a word or phrase in Polish. Thus I only know three phrases that I saw in these videos, which I believe mean “Hello,” “Thank you” and “I love you”. Ha!! That’s all you need in any language right?? Alright, I dont know how to spell these things, or even if the pronunciation is correct, so please correct me if I’m wrong but “hello” is “Cześć” prounced somthing like “chesht”???? At least that’s what it sounded like to me, haha! “Thank You” is “Dziekuje” which sounded like…”jee-koo-yeh”??? and I dont know if this last one is right, but according to Simon-from-EYK, “I love you” sounds like “ya cheb-yeh koham”. I dont even have the Polish spelling for that cuz I have no idea honestly!

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OK ANYWAY yeah that’s the extent of my Poland knowledge!

So this bread is pretty cool, despite the challenging method of making it. The dough is rolled then stretched very thin, and spread with a chocolate and walnut filling. Its then rolled up and coiled into the pan and baked, so when you cut into it, you see four rolled sections. I’ve seen other variations of this bread where there are only three sections, all side by side, or others where the dough and filling were thicker, and had less layers. But the way I made it is how I originally saw it made, so that’s what I went with!

I saw this recipe on The Great British Baking Show (surprise surprise), and since I like a good challenge, I decided to try it too! And once again, I got to try my hand a yeast doughs. I can’t tell if this bread turned out right or not. To me, I would have liked a bit more fluff, but, as usual, I always have trouble with yeast! My dough seemed a bit sticky, and hadn’t hardly risen at all after the first proof, so I ended up letting it rise for twice the required time for the first rise, and putting it in a warmed oven to help it along. It did end up rising up after extra time, but that worried me. WHAT DID I DO WRONG THIS TIME??? I still don’t know. But it turned out to be edible, so that’s good!

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The tricky part about this bread is getting it stretched big enough to be able to make two full coils in the pan, but not tearing any holes in the dough while doing so!

So the TL;DR version of this recipe is- Make the dough, let it rise. Make the filling. Roll out the dough. Carefully stretch the dough further, using the backs of your hands (whaaat?? Yeah. I’ll explain how I did it in a bit). CAREFULLY spread the filling all over the remarkably thin dough, and don’t tear holes in it, cuz you’re a wizard. Roll the whole thing up like a giant, very thin cinnamon roll. Lift it up, using magic, so you dont stretch it too much more, and coil it around in the pan. Let rise again. Bake. Drizzle with icing. Yum.

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ready for the dough!
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ready for the filling!
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This is the vanilla bean paste I used

In the process of getting the dough to the required size, you’re supposed to use a bed sheet to cover the whole work surface. The sheet helps keeps the dough from sticking to the table, and also makes it easier to roll it up, much like the idea of a bamboo sushi/kimbap rolling mat. Well, I didn’t had an extra sheet that I didn’t mind getting covered in flour and oils from dough, and I didn’t want to go buy an entire new sheet set just to complete this project. So my solution was to go to the grocery store and see if I could find anything, because the nearest place that I knew of/could think of that would sell anything fabric is out of walking distance. Luckily, this is Chicago, so you can walk in to basically any store ever and find something Cubs related. And I found a small section of cheap, off-brand, unofficial Cubs t-shirts, picked the largest size, and took it home, and promptly cut it up to cover my table.

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And now I might have to move out of Chicago for admitting on the internet that I destroyed a Cubs t-shirt.

I had to make this bread, okay?!?! And it didn’t even say “Cubs” on it anywhere, it more or less just hinted at  the Cubs cuz it was blue and white, and had the white “W” squeezed on it, said something about “play offs” and an odd Back to the Future reference!! Please don’t hurt me.

Anyway… so yeah. Stretching the dough! It took be a bit to figure out what the reciepe meant by “using the backs of your hands” to stretch it out. After I rolled the dough out to the initial required size, what I did was sliding my hands under the dough, palms down and fingers out, sort of slid my hands carefully under the dough, slightly coercing it out, but also letting it slide across my hands so it would stretch naturally and evenly. The dough was very soft, so I started with the edges, and worked my way around, trying to get it all even. I ended up with a veeeerry thin section in the middle, but otherwise, I think I did alright!!

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Behold the chocolaty walnutty filling
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Roll it out first
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a bit thin in the middle, but otherwise alright i think!
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This is me avoiding spreading the filling over the very thin area…
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ready to be rolled!
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All rolled up!
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UHM…..DOES THIS LOOK LIKE SOME WEIRD ORGAN OR WORM TO ANYBODY ELSE??
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Oohhhh

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I made a slight change to the recipe with the vanilla, I didn’t have a vanilla bean, so I used vanilla bean paste instead, and just added it with the wet ingredients instead of the dry. Worked out fine!

Alright! Let’s get some Polish current events, and then I’ll get to the recipe!
-As probably the whole world knows, Pope Francis just ended a 5-day visit to Poland, during which he visited Auschwitz in honor of the numerous victims of the holocaust, and he also held Mass for about 1.5 MILLION people for World Youth Day. His message during the Mass seemed like it was rather uplifting, judging by some of the quotes I read 🙂 You can read a bit more about his visit >here< (and a bunch of other places!)
-Apparently the Polish govt. is having a bit of a spat with the EU over “democratic values.” I’m still a little unclear on this whole thing, but from what I’m gathering, and correct me if I’m wrong, the Polish govt. has been dealing with some laws and legal stuff in a way that doesn’t really fly with the EU. And the EU has stepped in, and given Poland three months to basically listen to what the EU recommended for their govt, and ideally put those recommendations into action. Well, the Polish President signed a new law this past weekend that basically ignored everything the EU said, and…well the EU obviously isn’t happy about that! And it seems that if this issue continues to escalate, and the EU decides Poland is not following ideals set by the EU, then they will strip Poland of its right to vote in EU issues. Also, I’m pretty sure this is a much deeper conflict than what I’m understanding, and there are issues within the Polish government causing much tension as well, but..that’s my foreigner’s understanding of this conflict!
-And lastly, something a bit more light-hearted and sportsy for those who enjoy sportsing. There is a very promising 19-year-old athlete who plays soccer/football (whatever you want to call it) who has just made the decision to go play for English team, Leicester City! *insert dramatic music* This is apparently big news in the sportsing world cuz this kid, Bartosz Kapustk, is a very talented and promising athlete and many teams and leagues have had their eye on him, and he’s gotten a plethora of offers and stuff. But the main reason he decided on Leicester is because of Claudio Ranieri, who is the manager of Leicester, and apparently a legend, and basically Ranieri seems to have lots of faith in the young Kapustk and wanted him to join the team. That and they gave him the best offer I guess. Yaaay sportsing! Good luck to Bartosz. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Alright, now that we know about Poland, lets get to this recipe! I used the Great British Baking Show recipe. Source >Here<. There are lots of ingredients, so prepare yourself!

Povitica

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 300g (10½ oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 40g (1½ oz) caster sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 10g (⅓ oz) fast-action yeast
  • 30g (1oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • ½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
  • 150ml (5½ fl oz) whole milk, warmed
  • For the filling:
  • 60g (2Âź oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp whole milk
  • 280g (10 oz) walnut pieces
  • ½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
  • To assemble:
  • 15g (½ oz) butter, melted
  • 1 free-range egg white, beaten
  • 100g (3½ oz) icing sugar

Directions

  1. For the dough, tip the flour and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding 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.
  2. Tip the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – about one hour. Butter a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin.
  3. For the filling, place the butter and milk in a small pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 50x30cm (20x12in) rectangle. Brush the surface with 15g (½oz) melted butter.
  6. 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 1metrex60cm (40x24in).
  7. 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.
  8. Starting at the long edge of the dough, lift the sheet and gently roll the dough up tightly, like a Swiss roll.
  9. 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.
  10. Place the loaf tin inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for one hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/ 350F/Gas 4.
  12. Brush the dough with beaten egg white and 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.
  13. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. 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.
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