Paul’s povitica

I know I only recently baked, but I also only recently realized that I’ve done 40 recipes in the last year of me doing this and I still have 74 to go. So I started to feel the pressure.

Also I had that whole milk that I wanted to use up (remember?), so I figured I may as well do this weird recipe.

Why is it weird you ask? Well, let’s just say Paul has some unique ideas of how to roll a povitica.

I’m going to just let you sit in suspense. Even though it’s so weird and I want to tell you right now, but I’m going to try to create tension in this post.

Dun dun duuun.

So it’s bread.

Did I know that povitica is a kind of bread? No. Did I know povitica is a kind of word? Nope. Did I have to double-triple-quadruple-check the spelling of povitica? 100% yes.

I got home from work and threw dinner in the oven and checked the recipe when I sat down with a bag of white cheddar popcorn. That’s when I realized that rising times and baking time alone adds up to 3 hours (not including prep). So I got back up and put together the main dough.

Flour, sugar, salt, yeast, but make sure the salt and yeast aren’t touching because apparently that’s no good even though it’s an inconsistent instruction in this book. (Some recipes tell me to not let them touch, but other recipes don’t bother with that detail.)

Add to that a beaten egg.

Add to that melted butter.

But here’s the thing, I added the egg to the yeast side of the bowl and I added the very hot butter to the salt side of the bowl, but unlike yeast and salt, butter and eggs tend to run around where they like.

As a result, the butter ran into the eggs and the eggs ran into the butter and all I could think is, I hope those eggs don’t scramble. So I quickly mixed it together with a spatula, before I even got a chance to add the milk.

Add to that mess some lukewarm milk (that was warmed up in the butter pan without washing the butter out because, well, it’s all going to the same place and my bothers are few tonight).

Then start mixing.

To be honest, this doesn’t look great. I hope it gets better.

Yeah, I hope the egg isn’t scrambled.

My dough hook does weird things to dough.

I tested it halfway through the machine kneading and it was quick sticky, so I added some flour but I don’t think I added enough. I mean I did add an extra 9 grams of butter because I was too lazy to remeasure it, so maybe that’s what’s causing issues.

This doesn’t look like dough that will rise nicely.

I added some flour and mixed it in the bowl because I didn’t want to create a mess on the counter. (As I said: very few bothers.) The dough was quite warm. It was a little weird. I think this recipe is going to be just weird in every which way.

That looks good enough. Warm raw dough. I didn’t know that was a thing. Just like I didn’t know povitica was a thing.

Time to let that rise.

*one hour later*

While the dough doubles, Paul suggests I do the filling.

He wants me to put milk and butter in a pan until the butter melts and then he wants me to pulse walnuts, sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor. However, I’m going to switch those last two things: walnuts and stuff first; butter and milk second.

First, walnuts.

Then sugar. You know how I usually try to do a little less sugar? And how I used less sugar in the dough? (You didn’t know that because I didn’t tell you but I’m telling you now.) Well I seem to have counteracted that by putting in about 10 grams extra of sugar because I was too lazy to scoop it back.

Then two tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Then back to the milk and butter, like Paul wanted me to do first.

But I defy Paul! In so many ways. You’ll find out the main one in just a second.

First up, I just want to show off the loaf tin, greased with way too much butter, to ensure the bread pops out easily.

Also I had to separate an egg. I swear I’m usually good at this. Just these last two times, I’m terrible.

Okay, back to the walnuts and stuff. Now that it’s a sandy consistency…

…I can add the melted butter, hot milk and egg yolk.

Filling is done.

Now to the dough, where the weirdness begins.

It seems to have doubled, which is good, but let me just read this instruction to you:

“Spread a clean bedsheet over your worktop and dust with flour. Turn the risen dough out onto the sheet and, without knocking it back, roll out into a large rectangle about 50 x 30 cm.”

Yes, you read that right.

“A clean bedsheet.”


This is the weirdest recipe instruction I have ever read. A bedsheet. A bedsheet that I sleep on. Even though it’s requests a clean bedsheet, you’ve still slept on that and now are using it to roll up dough. Oh yeah, I guess I should also include the why:

“Starting at one long edge of the dough, lift the sheet and gently roll the dough up tightly, like a Swiss roll.”

I just, like, what, how, why, Paul, ew, just, ugh.

Why doesn’t he just say “Roll it up like a cinnamon roll” or “Use a large piece of parchment paper” or “DON’T USE A BEDSHEET, YOU FREAK!”

I’m so confused. It’s so weird. Paul, you are so weird. I’m ignoring that part of the recipe and instead just going ahead with a floured work surface.

Now here’s where things get additionally tricky and where I reread the recipe multiple times.

“Using the tops of your hands, stretch the dough out from the centre until it is very thin and opaque (you should be able to see the sheet through the dough). The rectangle should now measure about 1 metre x 60 cm.”

Two things. One, I had to clear most of my counter space to make room for what should be a metre-long rectangle of dough.

Two, am I supposed to treat this like pizza dough? Because if so, okay. And also if so, it didn’t work.

I cleared all that space for nothing. I tried the pizza dough trick. I tried rolling it. I tried flipping it and stretching it and flipping it again. It’s a good thing I read the instructions wrong because otherwise I would be flipping a buttered side. Thankfully I didn’t butter the dough and realized that after I stretched it out as long and wide as I could.

Now, after I stretched it out, I buttered it and got to work trying to add the filling.

This, too, didn’t really work. I’m supposed to “spread the filling gently over the dough … until evenly covered.” That’s really hard to do with a thick paste. I tried crumbling it all over the dough and then pushing it into place. Then I tried rolling it with a rolling pin. Then I had to pick the filling off the rolling pin and push it back in place. I figured this was good enough.

Now, instead of the REALLY WEIRD BEDSHEET THING, I decided to just start at one end and roll it like a cinnamon roll.

Then I ended up with this:

Then I had a revelation! Instead of rolling it out to be a metre long, I could just stretch out this dough log until it’s a metre long. Genius! I’m a genius!

Well, maybe not. I had to read the putting-it-into-the-loaf-tin instruction about twelve times. A few days ago I even tried googling it, but could only find finished photos of the bread.

“Carefully lift the rolled dough and place one end in a bottom corner of the prepared loaf tin. Ease the roll around the base of the tin to form a U shape, then continue laying the roll over the first U shape to form a second U shape on top.”

The letter and word combo of “U shape” is said way too many times in this particular step.

Initially I thought this meant more of an S shape where you fill the bottom of the loaf tin with one-third of the roll, fold it back over and fold it back over again. But that’s not what this means. I know that because at about the eighth time reading it, I read “bottom corner.” Aha!

So I think it means this:

And then this:

I mean we’re just all okay with this weird snake thing right? Are we? I feel like we are. I feel like I have no choice.

Also I have no bothers, right? Does it sound like I have no bothers? I think I’m finding some bothers.

Go ahead and rise, you weird snake of bedsheetless dough!

*one hour later*

The weird snake coil rose in its plastic bag home and was ready to be egg-white-washed.

Then ’twas time to pop it into the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees and then drop it down to 300 for another 45 minutes.

And now I wait and hope that it looks better post-baking. Because honestly, right now it looks weird and gross.

*15 plus 30 minutes later*

I didn’t want it to burn, because the recipe said there is a chance of the top burning, so I kept a close eye on it throughout the 45-minute baking time. I should also really get an oven thermometer because I don’t trust ovens. I have oven-trust issues. (It’s a very niche form of trust issues. I’m currently working on a self-help book to conquer this particular baking-related trust issue problem.)

Thankfully this is looking much more appetizing than, you know, every previous step, but I am going to throw some foil onto it just in case.

*another 15 minutes later*

Instead of risking a burnt bottom, I’m trusting Paul (even though he’s a bedsheet-baking wackadoo) and taking the povitica out exactly 1 hour after I put it in.

It looks pretty good, but I’m pretty tired. I flipped it out of the tin and tried knocking the bottom and wasn’t too happy to hear a not-totally-hollow sound. But as I mentioned, I am tired and want my bed.

I’ll deal with it tomorrow morning.

*the next morning*

So I woke up and went and checked the povitica, turned it over, knock-knock-knocked and heard hollowness. Phew! Time to pack this thing up and take it to work along with a bag of icing sugar for decorating.

*a couple hours later*

I went by the office coffee machine to mix together some icing sugar and water and came back to decorate it on the baking/proofing table in my department as people slowly gathered in their usual flock formation.

As the crowd grew, I tried gracefully slicing up freshly iced bread, but realized that would not be possible and my hands would just have to end up with icing all over them.

The first few slices weren’t as pretty as I was hoping (as they didn’t show off all the layers), but that’s because the ends got the U-bend of the snake coil, not the centre.

So to show off the pretty side of life, here’s a centre slice:

Not too bad, right? I’m pretty pleased with that. As was everyone else. Chocolatey and nutty, this weird bread was a hit! Even though, much like the savoury biscuits, I’m still not sure what it is. (The common denominator of my weird recipe experiences seem to be ol’ Paul Hollywood.)

Side note: I did google “povitica” and found out it’s a Slovenian national dish that’s typically made without yeast, and filled with eggs and curd cheese (among other things). So in true British fashion, it’s not a British dessert, but rather a stolen dish from another country, tweaked slightly and passed off as British.

Those classic colonizing Brits.

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