Yesterday, I made my one and only specialty recipe; Potica Bread. (Yugoslavian Christmas Bread) Someone brought this to a Christmas dinner when I was in residency and it has been a Christmas tradition in my home for 25 years now. I made it before the advent of the bread machine when liquids had to be heated to activate the yeast. It is much easier with a bread machine. So here goes.
3 ½ cups bread flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
2 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. butter or margarine (melted)
1 tsp. salt
Put the flour, yeast, egg, warmed milk, sugar, melted butter and salt in the bread machine and set for the dough cycle. Milk and butter should be between 115 - 120 degrees F.
- The best bread flour to use is King Arthur's Bread Flour.
- The best yeast is SAF Gourmet Perfect Rise. It can be hard to find but is very consistent.
- I usually let my egg warm in hot water while I measure the ingredients and melt the butter.
- My mom's bread machine has a preheat feature which is wonderful. No more measuring temps for the milk and butter.
- You can use 2% or whole milk with equally good results
While the dough is mixing in the bread machine, prepare the filling.
2 cups ground walnuts or pecans
1 beaten egg
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs. honey
2 tbs. milk
1 tbs. butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. vanilla
Grind the pecans as fine as possible in a food processor. In mixing bowl combine the nuts, beaten egg, brown sugar, honey, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and melted butter. Stir with mixer on low setting until well mixed. Set filling aside.
More Personal Notes:
- I usually use pecans but walnuts or a mixture of both can be used.
- I like a little more filling in mine than this makes, so I sometimes I increase the amount of brown sugar, honey, and nuts.
- The honey and nuts can be varied to determine the thickness of the filling paste.
- This recipe is quite forgiving, I'm not always real precise with the measurements of the vanilla and cinnamon, because I really like vanilla and cinnamon.
Punch dough down. On a large floured cloth, or on the counter, roll dough to a thickness of no more than 1/8 inch. This should be at least 30 x 20 inches. Spread the dough evenly with the nut filling to within ½ inch of the edges of the dough.
And More Personal Notes:
- I like more filling but you have to make sure it is not too thick. If you put too much filling in the bread will not hold together as well when sliced.
- I roll my dough out on our kitchen counter with just a little flour. The counter is a solid Corian surface, very easy to clean and it makes a great rolling surface.
- We have a silicone rolling pin that needs no flour, otherwise I would use either a cloth covered rolling pin that is well floured so the dough won't stick.
- Take your time rolling out the dough and get it as rectangular as you can. This can take a while because the dough is quite elastic. Don't give up, it will roll out.
Starting along the long side, slowly lift and roll up the dough jelly-roll fashion. Take your time and keep as even as possible. A little flour on the fingertips will help if there has been any sticking to the surface. Rub final edges with a little water and pinch edges carefully to seal. The rolled dough and filling will look a bit like a snake at this point. Place one end of roll in center of large, greased baking sheet. Coil dough to make a snail-shaped spiral keeping the closure seam on the bottom of the spiral; seal the end by tucking it under the coil securely.
And Even More Personal Notes:
- The best way to keep the seal seam line from cracking open during the final rise or baking is to make sure it is placed down, on the cookie sheet.
- You can do this by picking up the dough "snake" by both ends and twisting the seal seam while you make the spiral.
- Instead of greasing the cookie sheet, we have started using the no stick baking sheets.
I Bet You're Wondering If She Will Ever Quit With The Personal Notes:
- I let mine rise uncovered in a very slightly warm oven and for the first fifteen minutes I set a glass measuring cup with boiling water in the oven for moisture, then remove it.
- The baking time will depend on the oven but I have never left one in over 30 minutes, occasionally only 25 minutes.
- Don't bake on the lowest rack.
- Immediately after removing from the oven, I slide the bread onto a metal cooling rack and don't cover it until completely cool.
- One of my friends always made a powdered sugar glaze to put on top and on occasion I will sprinkle plain powdered sugar, but I really just like it plain or heated for about 10 seconds in the microwave.
- Cuts best with an electric knife after completely cooled. I usually cut it in half first and then make slices perpendicular to the flat cut surface.
Doesn't this look yummy? Guess what? It is heaven on earth!
(Finally the end of the post)