Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My First Daring Bakers Challenge

I know this is a few days late, but I've worked so much overtime the past couple of weeks I can barely function.  But I did manage to fit in my very first Daring Bakers Challenge...and it turned out AMAZING. 

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!

So Povitica (pronounced poh-vuh-TEET-sa) is bascially a yeast bread filled with some type of filling (the traditional is a walnut filling).  It reminded me almost of a danish, but with more of a yeasty flavor from the bread.  Amazing.  Seriously.  I had to give most of it away before I ate a whole loaf.  Or 2.

To me, there is no better way to start a day than with a cup of coffee, in the kitchen baking something.  Especially if that something is bread.  The smell of yeast and bread dough rising just relaxes me right into a trance.  A productive trance, that is.  It focuses me and I can handle the toughest of recipes (a la povitica).  The instructions for this recipe were 10 pages and 35 steps long.  It definitely took some focus, but the taste of this amazing bread was worth it in the end. 

The recipe provided made 4 loaves.  Way too much.  I halved it and made 2.  We were required to make one loaf with the traditional walnut filling (yum!), and we could have creative license on the rest.  My other loaf had a pumpkin-butter-cream-cheese filling.  Ohhhhhmigod.  I want to bathe in that stuff.  I couldn't find a recipe anywhere for a pumpkin cream cheese filling (not one that I liked at least) so I made up my own.  I'm not going to include the recipe on here, because it's simply too long and would take all day to type, but if anyone wants the recipe, leave a comment and I will gladly e-mail it to you! 

So here's how I did....

All of my inredients and equipment.  Can you tell how tiny  my kitchen is?  That's just about my only counter space.

Activating the yeast.  Looks gross, but it's one of the best smells to me.  Weird...I know.

Scalding the milk to add into the dough.  Not sure why I had to do this, but the recipe says it makes the bread tender.  Guess it worked.

All of the ingredients for the bread dough.  I didn't use my handy dandy KitchenAid mixer on this one.  The instructions say you can easily mix it by hand.  It actually wasn't too bad.

The dough looks a bit gloppy, but it comes together pretty quickly.

Plop out the dough onto the countertop and split it into two rounds (or 4 if you're making 4 loaves).

Supposed to put each round into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel to let rise.  I'm a dummy and ran out of plastic wrap (what kind of baker am I???) so I cut a ziploc bag in half.  Worked just fine!

While the bread dough rises (oh the SMELL!), make the fillings.  This deliciousness is for the walnut filling. 

I would totally eat that by itself if not for the raw egg.  Basically this is walnuts, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.  Gah!

The not-so-secret ingredient in the pumpkin-butter-cream-cheese filling.  I got this stuff at Williams Sonoma a couple weeks ago.  Yes, this little jar is $11.  But holy crap.  It is fabulous.  I think I'm going to go stock up on a few jars before the season is over.  Anyway, I added a couple of tablespoons to some softened cream cheese and sugar, and I got this:

Heaven in a bowl.  I just want to dive in and swim around.  And eat a bunch of it.  I really had to restrain myself so I would have enough filling for the bread.

WTF, you ask?  Well, my friends.  The recipe says to use a floured sheet (yes, a bedsheet) to help roll up the dough.  I thought it sounded crazy, but I wanted to get the full experience of the challenge.  Unfortunately, my countertop is WAY too small to fit a sheet, so I used a pillowcase instead, and it was actually the perfect size.  So I floured my (clean) pillowcase and got to work.

The dough has to be rolled out super-thin, so you can almost see through it.  I know my edges are a little thicker, but I did the best I could.  (See Granny's marble rolling pin over there?  Love that thing!)

Rocky really wants a sample.

Spread with walnut filling and roll up.  Here's where the sheet/pillowcase comes in handy.  You have to flour the sheet really well, and then just pull the edges up and it sort of rolls itself.  Like a jelly roll.

This looks small, but weighs about 2 lbs. 

The dough gets coiled around itself and brushed with a topping of cold coffee, sugar and melted butter.  (It looks a little creepy right now, but wait until it bakes!)

Repeat with pumpkin filling.

I ran to the store and bought plastic wrap.  Cover and let rest 15 mins.

Pop the loaves in the oven and do some dishes.  Yikes!

Waaaaahhhhh! (That's angels singing, btw).  And that chunk missing from the middle?  I was just making sure it wasn't poisonous. 

Look how cool and swirly they are in the middle!  They say the best way to slice the loaves is to turn the loaf upside down and cut with a serrated knife.  Mine still crumbled a bit, but it was still SO tasty.

I ate a few pieces, then took some to work and the rest to Aunt Peggy.  Ahhhh so amazing.  I think I may make a few loaves for Christmas gifts.  I have to work on the presentation a bit, but I can't wait to play around with a few other fillings.  :) 

This took all day.  And was definitely a challenge but I was really pleased with how it turned out.  I'm anxiously awaiting Daring Bakers to post what this month's challenge will be (it comes out today).  So hopefully they don't kick me out for posting late!  Whoops. 

If anyone wants the recipe, lmk and I will send it to you.  <3

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