Povitica! Pumpkin Cheese Pie Povitica, and the Traditional One.

POVITICA! Two ways; pumpkin pie povitica and walnut povitica!

Ever go through those blogging ruts where nothing seems to turn out right, from the dish and the photos to writing the post? You literally stop flowing; herky jerky, forced writing becomes the norm (see the first sentence above).  I’m deep in one of those ruts now, and it’s got a grip on me like quicksand laced with tar.  Not to mention, the throes of PMS are pulling at every last nerve.

Pumpkin Cheese Pie Povitica, and Chocolate Walnut Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Pumpkin Cheese Pie Povitica, and Chocolate Walnut Povitica

Throughout the next day or two, as I exorcise the bitch in me, I will start adding text to this post.  Nice stuff..I promise.  I know, it doesn’t always have to be nice, but the last thing I want to do is type in characters, because the expletives could be rampant.  Can a thesaurus give me more suitable words for F%$^&@> S%?&?

Chocolate Walnut Povitica

The two preparations of povitica you see are the traditional walnut from the challenge, and my creation, a pumpkin cheese pie povitica.  Yes, ‘pie’.  I mixed ground cinnamon graham crackers into pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar, an egg and spices.  I did this because the filling needed a sponge of sorts since it would have been too runny by itself to spread on the dough.  The graham crackers not only thickened it, but added a ‘graham cracker crust’ flavor to it, like a pumpkin cheese pie filling in a graham cracker crust rolled into a rich, paper-thin, yeast dough.

Povitica (poh-vah-teet-sah) is an Eastern European bread that’s called a dying art, as in not many home bakers make it anymore because it’s a bit labor intensive. Well, a bit is an understatement. The dough has to be rolled super-duper thin..transparency thin -read the newspaper through it thin, LIKE strudel thin.  See the relationship? I cannot do strudel dough either. I’m 90% Eastern European and can’t turn out an aesthetically pleasing Eastern European bread or pastry to save my life. I’ve been asked to make a babkah (how I grew up spelling it, as in babkahhhh tonight!) for a friend.  Oh, boy. I’m not sure what it will end up looking like, but I’m pretty certain it won’t look like a babkah.

My part Russian – Hungarian badge may be revoked soon!

Pumpkin Cheese Pie Povitica, and Chocolate Walnut Povitica

Having said all that, the dough is not even the hardest part; the traditional walnut filling spread on this paper-thin dough IS.  This stuff is as thick as tar.  We were told we could add milk to thin it once it cooled.

I added milk, and stirred.

Added more milk, and stirred.

Forget it, it was sludge; a ravenous brown blob that literally soaked up all the milk with nary a change in viscosity.  I gave up and dumped scoops of it all over the delicate dough to cover as much ‘land’ as possible..and then it took me 45 minutes spread.  Yes, 45 freakin’ minutes.

To all those who took part in the challenge, how did you spread this stuff without ripping the dough? My dough was elastic and perfectly thin, BUT, it lifted and tore on as I tried to spread the thick walnut filling. By the time I finished and started to roll, the holes were sticking to the floured sheet, so I couldn’t pull up the sheet and roll it using the sheet – like this video shows .

Below is what the ropes of long dough looked like in my bread pans.  I used the S-shaped method shown in the video for both povitica, but by the time I finally got them into the pan, they were torn C’s that sunk into each other with a tired moan.

The pumpkin filled ropes tore because I accidentally let go of one end while lifting it, and the heavy filling pulled it open.  They look like Elephants trunks after a night out drinking and fighting.  Not a pretty sight; look away if you must!

Pumpkin Cheese Pie Povitica, and Chocolate Walnut Povitica

For the walnut loaf, I used Wolf’s rolling method, shown in the collage above.  I was desperately hoping to turn out out a loaf just like hers. Isn’t it gorgeous?? Well..that ended up being a joke because I didn’t get even one swirly coil in any of my three loaves.  Everyone in the challenge got them. Now I know for sure I’m not destined to have swirly coils in my povitica.

I’ve come to the conclusion that when you bake or cook angry or sad, it translates into the final result, which is why I had so many problems and no swirly coils.  I think I should meditate or do yoga before cooking or baking the next time I’m out of sorts or PMSing.  At the very, very least, I’ll be limber.  I will try the povitica again.  Maybe.  One day.

Swirly coils or not, povitica is a delicious and strikingly delicate, crumbly textured sweet or savory bread, so I implore you to make it.  I have no doubt that you will get swirly coils.

How to Make Povitica

Half Batch Dough Ingredients
(Makes two loaves each 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To Activate Yeast:
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 Teaspoon All-Purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/¼ oz/1 sachet) active dry yeast

1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 large eggs
1/4 Cup unsalted butter, melted
4 cups All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

Melted butter for brushing the loaves

1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.

2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.

4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.

5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.

6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.

7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour

8. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)

9. Place dough in 2 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

To fill and roll the povitica, check out these fantastic step-by-step video directions, HERE.

Walnut filling
for one loaf povitica
1 3/4 cups ground English walnuts
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 Egg Yolk, beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 reaspoon cinnamon

1. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
2. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
3.. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.4.. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
5. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
6. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

Pumpkin Cheese Pie Filling
For one loaf povitica
8 ounces cream cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup ground cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, dark brown sugar, and vanilla extract; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the pumpkin puree and spices.  Stir in graham cracker crumbs.

*  You can substitute the all the spices with 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.

• The Povitica will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature.
• The Povitica will keep fresh for 2 weeks if refrigerated.
• The Povitica can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped a layer of wax paper followed by a layer of aluminum foil. It is recommended to not freeze Povitica with cream cheese fillings as it doesn’t hold up to being thawed really well – it crumbles.

I’m submitting my Pumpkin Cheese Pie Povitica to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread showcase hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.

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54 Responses to Povitica! Pumpkin Cheese Pie Povitica, and the Traditional One.

  1. Dan says:

    I am glad you made a post on bread I really kneaded it! : ). I hope you lose your crustiness so you can finish the post : ). I am going to loaf around for the rest of the day myself : ). Anyway bread looks yummy look forward to the rest of your post. Nice photos too!

  2. Too funny! I have days like this and vent as well (my Rudebarb (rhubarb) recipe happened on one such day… It’s awesome to have a place to vent and sympathetic ears, eh? Those swirls look even better… it’s almost Hallowe’en and in the first and last picture it almost looks like white ghosts… so there, you meant to do that, right?

  3. Jenni says:

    Oh my Darling, even if you are a little crabby today, and you didn’t get “perfect” swirls, I think your swirls are very lovely! In fact, how the heck did you do the pumpkin cream cheese ones? I love it! As always, you did a splendid job, you are too hard on yourself, and I can’t wait to read what else you decide to write. 🙂

    Ok, here is my lame joke for the day:
    Why was the Scientist’s head all wet?
    Because he had a brain storm!

  4. Great job! Both povitica look wonderful.



  5. Roses are red, violets are blue. I hate rhyming. Penis.


  6. Simone says:

    Not sure about you but some of the comments already had me crack up. I am not even gonna try that as I’m not funny… What wrong dear? Did this bread make you so grumpy? In which case I’m quite happy I forgot to make it.. In fact if you see my desk there is this enormous stack of paper (doing the tax returns at the moment.. talk about getting grumpy) and right below all that invoice-boring stuff I can just see the logo of the Daring Bakers. So that pivotica is hiding underneath! Still I think it looks very pretty… 🙂

  7. Makey-Cakey says:

    Your pumpkin and cheese one looks and sounds delicious. Very autumnal too :o) Hope the funk is passing…

  8. Lisa~~ says:

    Even without the swirls they’re both gorgeous and I can’t wait to read more…even if it is the pissy stuff. No funny remarks here but if you want I can send some fairy dust or placebos your way, they both always work wonders on Maisie’s mood. Hugs to you.

  9. Shelley C says:

    I could tell you my five year old daughters’ favorite knock-knock jokes…
    knock knock… (who’s there…) Doctor. (Doctor who?) Hey, did you know that was an old TV show? (I told you, she’s five… it’s funny to her…)
    How about chicken jokes… Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Well why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide! I repeat. She’s five.
    Your poviticas look very cool, and I am super impatient to see about the pumpkin cheese variety, so I hope you start feeling better soon. If five year old jokes don’t help, you can cyber snuggle with the 10 month old… that’s about all I can offer… 🙂

  10. Your bread looks delicious! And I snorted a good laugh when you reported you were “exorcising the bitch”. That was funny. I know some good jokes though they’re mostly clean…I can remember 2 at the moment. Why are elephants big and gray and rough? Because if they were small and white and round, they would be aspirin. and…Where did the king keep his armies? Up his sleevies! OH! and What do you call a fish with no eyes? FSH…. (and you have to drag out the SH part like a big dork. I know that one doesn’t work in written word, but… feel better soon 🙂

  11. Korena says:

    “Roses are red, violets are blue. I hate rhyming. Penis.” – well THAT almost made me snort water out my nose, so I hope it cheers you up too!

    Jokes and bad moods aside, the pumpkin cheese pie povitica filling sounds mouthwatering, and I think it looks real purdy 😉 Hope that bitch is exorcised 😉

  12. Suzanne says:

    Lisa, I just finished my post and put it up. Pumpkin cheesecake povitica sounds really good. I just did mine with apples no nuts for the non nut lovers of the family known as kids. My swirls were not so noticeable since I didn’t have chocolate in mine. Sorry your mood stinks but at least your honest. I didn’t really do much talking in my post just tried to get it up 🙂 Have a good night!! xoxo Suz

  13. That is so cool! It’s like a modified cinnamon roll and that is creative the pumpkin version. So pretty! Now I will back away slowly before my head gets bitten off 😉 Hope you find a happy humor real soon! xox

  14. Oh Lisa, these look beautiful! You’re not happy with the photos?I think they look gorgeous. I hope you’re ok? 🙂

  15. Haha I love the idea of a post you can update as your mood improves! I think the way you feel definitely translates into food – I once made a batch of cookies in a folw mood and everything went wrong from egg shell in the batter to the oven temperature…this was not cooking with love! Think your bread still looks great though, and looking forward to seeing the updates as they come through 🙂

  16. Loved your post – it’s interesting to glimpse at a process of developing a recipe. The end result is excellent!

  17. Rajani says:

    I know what ‘Herky jerky, forced writing’ means. I am going through one bad phase now!! You are not happy with these photos? I think they look awesome. Love the swirls and the clicks. Really beautiful!

  18. F.Emme says:

    Saw the Doctor Who joke, and couldn’t help thinking of a Catherine Tate skit revolving around Doctor Who: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHAJ4VFStUE It might help with the exorcism 😉

    In the meantime, your Povitica looks spectacular; and I love the idea of a Pumpkin Pie Povitica–using the graham cracker crumbs for the Pie-feel is so creative! I’m curious, does it remain crunchy?

    Looking forward to reading how this post keeps evolving! 😀

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you for that video…very funny and apropos! As for the graham crackers in the filling, not completely crunchy, but there is texture. It’s mostly in the flavor, though 🙂

      • F.Emme says:

        That’s awesome that the graham crackers weren’t swallowed up by the rest of filling–definitely putting this on my to-do list! Thank you, Lisa!

  19. Mary says:

    Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9. Go on, say it aloud. I spend my days with kids, so these are the lame jokes I hear.
    Your breads look great and your writing is not nearly as forced as mine always is. So, get over it, ‘kay?

  20. Like I said, I think your bread looks beautiful! But your story sounds like what I imagined the experience of making this bread would be when I read the recipe. I guess I got lucky because my dough was really soft and it stretched really thin when I picked it up on the backs of my hands and I didn’t have to do any rolling. I expected it to pull back like pizza dough and be a huge pain. Maybe it didn’t because I hardly kneaded it all-I have no idea. I added a half cup of thin citrus marmalade to my filling (just for yums) and it was pretty runny. So I pretty much poured it and barely spread it because the dough was obviously fragile. Like I said-lucky! I’m only on my 4th challenge so I know I’ve got it coming to me one of these days!

    • Lisa says:

      My dough was perfect..elastic, could roll it super thin with no problem…but when I spread the walnut filling, it started tearing in places, and the pumpkin rope ripped when I accidentally let go of one end. Perhaps I rolled the dough too thin? No idea, but *sniff* no swirlies for me this time! Your loaves are amazing!

  21. Crumbs of Love says:

    Your pumpkin photo is simply lovely to look at Lisa. I wish I could offer some prolific blogging advice but I ALWAYS have a tough me with the writing part. I just wish I had a little of that with the eating part! I think your prebake photo looks more like a boys hazing incident gone wrong than a drunken elephant trunk though… Best, Sandie

  22. Crumbs of Love says:

    You want a laugh? Look at the 18th picture on Not Quite Nigella’s Potivica post. If that doesn’t work nothing will

  23. Crumbs of Love says:

    You want a laugh? Look at the 18th picture on Not Quite Nigella’s Potivica post. If that doesn’t work nothing will

  24. JennyBakes says:

    Sorry you’re having a cranky day… I completely forgot to even try this challenge. I love the graham cracker idea and I am SALIVATING here.

  25. Your dough in the pans looks sort of ugly but the baked bread looks beautiful! Once again, you’re too hard on yourself xoxo Barbara

  26. Renata says:

    By looking at the loaves in the pans I could never tell they are the same ones I see above. They look gorgeous, I think that if the challenge was to make free art with the bread, it would be quite difficult to come up with something like that! I love it! The same happened to me, very thin dough, very grainy filling and it was a huge surprise for me to see the swirls when I cut the loaf, I was expecting anything BUT swirls 🙂

  27. I too, swore a bunch while making this… I think your loaves are really pretty! Super swirly!

  28. Suz says:

    I was in a bit of a writing rut this month too. I just couldn’t get the words out. So frustrating. Anyway, I think your poviticas are definitely easy on the eye. Besides, swirly coils are so overrated. 😉 The orange swirls on the pumpkin pie one are particularly beautiful and the filling sounds … well, there are no words. Just a heavy sigh of longing.

    “Roses are red, violets are blue. I hate rhyming. Penis.” That one really made me laugh. Here’s one of the top ten Edinburgh Fringe jokes from 2011: “Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many levels.”

  29. Liz says:

    Your slices are just stunning! I never would have known of your tearing problem if you didn’t include that…but that would have ticked me off, too! Hope you have a great weekend with absolutely NO glitches in anything~

  30. Your pumpkin pie filling sounds amazing!! And perfect timing, too. I thought the marbled look of your swirls was really beautiful– it made me wonder how you got that effect 🙂

  31. Dinavia says:

    I first thought the pumpkin bread was a pumpkin muffin! Who needs swirlies when you have stripies? They both look yummy!

  32. Despite what you say these loaves look like they came out perfectly to me! I wish I had a good joke to cheer you up. Ok, here’s one. A baker puts a batch of muffins in the oven. A few minutes later he opens the oven door, checks on them, and closes it again. Another few minutes pass and he checks on them again. Then again. One muffin turns to the another muffin and says, “Hey, what’s with this baker? Why is he checking on us so often?” The other muffin turns to the first muffin and screams “Holy S$%& a talking muffin!” Hope you feel better. We’ve all been there! 😀

  33. Kelly says:

    A bleached blonde and a natural blonde were on top of the Empire state building . How do you tell them apart? The bleached blonde would never throw bread to the helicopters.

    I’m a natural blonde, but i couldn’t resist! Your poviticas look great, despite the party hardy elephant trunks.

  34. dieta says:

    It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife. The sheet is also used for rolling the Povitica up but again it is not necessary.

  35. Andrea says:

    Hiya i found your blog today and I love it!. Thank you for sharing your lovely poviticas! I think they look beautiful!

  36. Juliana says:

    I never heard of this bread…both look very tempting…love how you curled them and I sure would love to try them both. Pumpkin and cheese is very creative…
    Hope you have a wonderful week and thanks for this post Lisa…

  37. shaz says:

    Oh, hugs to you LIsa! Sorry it wasn’t working as you hoped, and I think we’ve all been in those blogging ruts before, I know I certainly have. I’m sure you’ll be bouncing right back pretty soon.

    Your povitica looks fantastic though, I’m not sure what you’re worried about. The pumpkin pie one sounds delicious. And I did half-measures of the filling (but used different nuts), the filling was quite runny actually. Maybe the egg size? I know I used a smallish egg.

  38. Baker Street says:

    Some of the comments are too funny! Lol.

    both of the povitica look lovely! thanks for sharing!

  39. FOODESSA says:

    Besides the fact that I feel you manage to beat yourself a little too much over your baking skills…I do truly understand that our energy and mood should be in sync when put against such challenges.

    Well, for myself…I honestly had never heard a povitica…so there…how hard should I be on myself?

    Lisa…I really appreciate that you share your vulnerabilities as well as your successful accomplishments. Makes us all feel normal and alive!!!

    Have a great (non-moody) week ahead. Life is too short for bad days.

    Ciao for now,

  40. Well, the pumpkin potica sounds delicious and looks gorgeous–sorry it was so frustrating to make. Don’t worry, you don’t have to turn in your Russian-Hungarian baker badge just yet . . . .

  41. Krista says:

    I confess your photos of the wretched things made me grin – looking there so sad and miserable in their pan before baking. 🙂 I’m so glad it at least tasted good after all that fuss and bother! 🙂

  42. Sue says:

    Lisa, You must be “Type A” because your bread looks GOOD to me! You are so funny:) The Pumpkin Cheese Pie version sounds delicious!

    P.S. Two cannibals were eating a clown and the one cannibal said to the other “Does this taste funny to you?” 🙂

    XO, Sue

  43. Sophie33 says:

    Waw, Lisa -Michele! You have outdone yourself big time, this time! Your special cake looks just FABULOUS!!!!!! Gobsmacked here! Really!

    Kisses from Belgium to you, my friend! 🙂

  44. I have a million things to do and can’t get away from your blog! I grew up with this stuff, my Grama was from Yugoslavia and we call it Potica. She had a special tablecloth she used for this and for what we made in DB as Strudel, really Phyllo dough, but the Serbs call it Pita. They are both delicious but frankly a pain in the arse to make. But you inspired me to pull out that recipe, it has been years….I’ll let ya know how it goes!

  45. Jessica says:

    “Elephant trunks after a night out drinking and fighting.” You crack me up! Mine didn’t have swirls either because, oops..I didn’t do this challenge. LAME! Had intended to, so maybe it’ll happen..someday. I still think both of yours look pretty and the pumpkin one sounds awesome!

  46. Dianna says:

    What about making a cinnamon babka filling instead? It surely would spread much easier and who cares if it has nuts or anything else??? haha I’m definitely a cinnamon girl and am wondering if a cinnamon spread might be the way to go in this instance.

  47. Cassandra says:

    You know I have been making Povitica for 42 years and this is the first time that I have ever seen the walnut filling with these ingredients. I can’t imagine even trying to spread the filling with this recipe.

    Generally speaking I make around 2-300 two pound loves of Povitica annually. If I where to use the filling recipe as is I would die of exhaustion.

    The next time you make this, try leaving out the egg yolk and adding three stiffly beaten egg white. Your life will become so much easier.

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you so much for that, Sandra! I haven’t made it since because of that spreading/tearing fiasco! I will most definitely take a shot at it again using three beaten egg whites in lieu of the egg yolk! I really thought it was me because everyone else seemed to have no problem spreading that thick filling on the paper thin dough, and got perfectly spiraled loaves! Thank you, again! 🙂

      • Cassandra says:


        Your very welcome! Yours is by far not the only post that I have seen on the net omitting the egg whites, I have seen it dozens of times. I do cheat just a little further. I melt an additional 1/4 c of butter and brush is lightly on the dough before I begin spreading it. Your crust will have slightly different texture but it is wonderful. Your loaves were just fine, you just caused yourself a lot of work and frustration. I always use an ice cold marble rolling pin and it goes pretty fast. I am sure you will try it again, for an awesome version heat another 1/2 cup of milk add 8 ounces of dates. Just gently heat and let the dates soften for a few and cool. Add to your filling. I have made your pumpkin filling and it is delicious. Today I did one with the recipe but substituted raw sugar and bread crumbs, blackberry jelly and left out the spices. It was finished at 11 this morning and there isn’t a drop left.

        Happy Baking!

      • Lisa says:

        Cassandra..if you are ever in or near the NYC area, I would love to make Povitica with you! Just the fact that you make 2 to 300 loaves annually, is astounding and I can only imagine how amazing they are! Your blackberry jelly addition sounds incredible and I also love the idea of adding dates! I’m really flattered that you liked my pumpkin cheese pie filling. I made it up on a whim, the cinnamon graham cracker crumbs acting as the crust flavor. It certainly spread a lot easier than the traditional filling with the yolk lol

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