When I saw the contestants on Bake Off doing the technical challenge last Wednesday, I have to admit, I panicked a little. I knew the challenges would get harder and harder, but I couldn’t help but repeat: “I have to make that?” again and again as I watched it.
Still, I love a good challenge, so despite the lack of long counter space in my kitchen, I resolved to at least give povitica (pronounced po-vee-tee-za) a go.
I felt like I could just about remember something like this from a few years back, and checked with my parents, who lived in Bosnia and frequently crossed the border to Croatia, to see if they could recall having had this sweet bread before. They, like me, only remembered it distantly.
Still, I had the recipe in full, which is more than the contestants had, and I had seen what it should look like.
So, here is what happened:
You can find the recipe here.
I was pleasantly surprised by this cross between a bread and a cake. It was definitely tricky, especially since I had never worked with dough spread this thin and wide before. But it was not quite as difficult as I had expected. And the result was absolutely delicious.
I did encounter a few problems along the way. The dough was easy enough to put together and allow to rise (I left it an hour as I do with all breads for the first rise), but the filling was problematic for a couple of practical reasons. The first was that I hadn’t bought quite enough walnuts. Oops. Still, I figured it wouldn’t be a huge problem.
But then came another problem: I don’t actually own a food mixer/big blender, as I find a stick/hand blender does the jobs I wish it do just as well (mostly soups and smoothies; I’m quite happy to chop/grate my veggies myself) – but that was sadly not the case with the walnuts. As a result, I ended up not being able to get the powder that the recipe suggests. But remembering how Mary Berry actually enjoyed the slight crunch to Luis’ povitica from not entirely blended walnuts, I decided this would probably be fine.
I rolled the dough out on a clean bedsheet, as per Paul Hollywood’s suggestion, on my dining room table (the only surface big enough!). I stretched it as thin as I could to the correct dimensions, and managed to get only a few minor tears, so I was relatively happy with that. Spreading the filling was very difficult though! I used Martha’s cling film technique, which worked ok, but unfortunately there just wasn’t quite enough filling (because I hadn’t got enough walnuts), and what I did have was a little bit chunkier than it should have been (had it blended properly), so it ended up a little bit patchy.
Still, it could have been worse, so I rolled it up as it was and got it in the loaf tin and baked it.
And it came out wonderfully! I was really surprised when I took it out of the oven. And even more surprised when I sliced it and saw this:
Plus, it is absolutely scrumptious. I will definitely make this again, as it is in my opinion the most delicious of the technical challenges so far.
Right, now to mentally prepare myself for patisserie week. I may be French, but the idea still terrifies me!