Sunday, November 23, 2008

Povitica and My Scary Little Secret

As a young bride living on Strawberry Hill, my mother-in-law was the recipient of a little Croatian lady's recipe for povitica — the best povitica in the universe. I chose in the universe for a reason, but we'll get to that in a minute.

I wanted to make the sugar cookies yesterday, but I knew if I kept postponing the povitica, it would fall off the list, as it has the past two Thanksgivings, so I convinced myself to make the povitica dough and set it to rise, before starting on the cookies. Noting the kitchen seemed particularly cool, I set the bowl of povitica dough by the woodstove in the living room and began making cookies, not thinking at the time about my scary little secret and how long it was going to take me to get those cookies baked.

As soon as the cookies were whisked off the table, I retrieved the povitica dough, which was taunting, "I'm workin' on triple here. I'm about to triple," and was threatening to climb out of the bowl.

Making povitica requires the whole of our large kitchen table and a draping of said table with a sheet. When Purrle's not guarding the bathtub during the day, he's sleeping on the lowest shelf inside the linen cabinet, and don't even think that's not scary: hanging around in that room, thinking you're all by yourself — as naturally you should be — when the linen tower door suddenly pops open, and a groggy cat walks into your presence. So when I raced to the bathroom for a clean sheet, you can be sure I chose the uppermost shelf of sheets, and for insurance purposes, I reached far into the back for my cloth.

With said pristine sheet on the table, I began flipping flour with abandon...and experienced a momentary disorder of attention: *gasp* "Son4, c'mere! You gotta see this! It's a galaxy! Get the camera!"

Best povitica recipe in the universe.

Back on task and having obliterated my universe, the dough was snaked down the length of the table, and the pulling began.

All hands on board ('ceptin' the photographer, of course,
who did soon set the camera aside and do his share of tugging):

You have to pull and stretch, top and bottom:

The dough didn't want to fit neatly onto the table this time, so I began dissecting it and fitting the pieces to available openings. The dissection wasn't such a big deal, for I knew the povitica was going to take a different, final form this year because of my scary little secret: when I ran the self-cleaning feature of my oven about three weeks ago, I croaked the whole thing. Yes, indeed, a mere 19 days before Thanksgiving, my oven bit the dust. Within an hour, I'd ordered a new one, but delivery is scheduled for the 24th, and boy howdy, they better be meaning what they say. In the meantime, all baking is done in the microwave-convection oven combo, and just not so very much can at once be poked into that little box to twirl in the heat. With table-sized povitica staring us in the face, the search was on for suitably sized receptacles.

Then came the cooked glop:

Next, the rolling and cutting:

The glop was moving faster than I was:

But I finally fitted the last piece of povitica into a pan:

It took 5 hours to bake 5 pans of povitica in a little box, but it will have been worth every hour...especially since I fell fast asleep in the living room during the last five minutes of pan #3, and my darling husband dutifully tended the two remaining pans, including basting each with the cocoa-sugar-butter bath at minute number-40 and returning each to the oven for another 10-minute spin.

Rousing from my unintended sleep, I raced to the kitchen, demanding, "Where's my timer!? Where's my timer!?"

"Calm down. It's okay. It's still in the living room. I turned it off. And this is the last loaf."

*hugging husband*
*mopping brow*

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. ~Nahum 1:7


Son3 said...

To the tune of The Limbo Song:

When you're rollin' out the dough,
Just make sure you roll it slow;
If you roll the dough too quick,
Povitica make you sick.

When you pour the filling in,
Just be sure you wear a grin.
When you smile on what you bake,
Povitica turn out swell!

Janie said...

What is a Povitica? What is that goopy stuff that you cook and put in the inside? I must know!

~CarolineNot said...

You made me laugh, Janie. Ü

Povitica is a "swirled bread" made with a sweet dough. Filling is scalded milk, butter, eggs, sugar, finely chopped English walnuts. It's a dessert bread (like no other, in my opinion). Grandma Boo's was always perfect. Mine is always NOT. *L*

Susan said...

Wow, thanks, I recieved a gift of this wonderful bread and was looking for answers of exactly what it is. Your bog is great !