sweet bread

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
Luciano Pavarotti

 Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversPillowy, soft, cloudy, dreamy, fruity, buttery, yeasty, sweet … difficult to believe that light tender goodness is achievable without butter, or rather oodles of butter, yet this recipe rang true! There was something about them, something that made me want to make them. Try these Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers; they’ll will make you sing this holiday season too!Tokyo Dec 2011This discovery is thanks to the Secret Recipe Club, December that I very nearly missed {I bailed out much earlier and the very sweet  Jane found a volunteer for me}, but Cooking With Chopin, Living With Elmo, a beautiful blog penned by Ginny, stayed in my mind. There was SO MUCH I wanted to make from there, but a very busy last few months, and a hurried trip to Tokyo had me unsure if I could make the deadline!Tokyo Dec 2011, Japanese Tea Ceremony

Tokyo Dec 2011

The Secret Recipe Club, the brainchild of Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin’. The idea behind the club – Each month you are “assigned” a participating food blogger to make a recipe from. 

It’s a secret, so don’t tell them you are making something from their blog! Click here if you’d like to join!!

Sure am glad I jumped right in because these popovers and this pull apart loaf were outstanding. They are wonderful for the holiday season, and can be dressed up for Christmas. Make ahead sounds magical for this busy time of the year, eggless and butterless making it feel less guilty {should you omit the melted butter on top}. Throw in some cranberries, almonds and pistachios {the red, white & green} to tie it all together.Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversYou might think no butter would make these not-so-delicious. Not at all, in fact these were uh-ma-zing {just like Ginny refers to The Pioneer Woman where the dough recipe comes from}. The basic dough is from Rees recipe for Cinnamon Rolls which look amazing and are typically full of buttery cinnamon goodness. Ginny made the cinnamon rolls from there and her post has excellent step by step photographs. She then went on to use the dough for an Apple-Cinnamon Pull Apart Loaf which looked gorgeous!Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversOne look at that post and I knew I had to make it come what may. Dashed out bought eggs etc, stocked the larder with staples I would need. Time to read the recipe – ” Hmmmm, no eggs? Had I missed something?” Read and reread the recipe … strangely enough it’s a vegetarian one. What a wonderful discovery! Yeasted bread sans eggs had me intrigued; soon the yeast was bubbling!Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversI popped the dough into the fridge for an overnight rest after the first rise, before adding the soda and baking powder. I later read that you can rest it in the fridge even after adding the two. I made the filling the night before too so I could get the loaves moving early the next morning. If you are better organised than me, you could possibly assemble the loaves the night before as well and let them slowly rise in the fridge overnight. Would make less work the next morning to let them rest out on the counter for a bit and then pop them into the oven!Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers Thank you Ginny. These are brilliant for the holiday ! The best part is that the end result is light as  cloud and delicious despite the lack of butter! The not-so-terrible-anymore teen who is back to playing the dieting diva literally inhaled two popovers … “These are SO GOOD” she exclaimed, reconfirming 3 times that I had used EVOO! {She had another couple after dinner, but no cream!!}Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers Changes to the recipe …a few basic ones. I had no walnuts so used roasted chopped almonds and skipped the cinnamon. I also had some dried cranberries soaking in fresh orange juice in the fridge for the past few days which never quite got to their destination, so I chucked them in too. Good move! More yumminess and flavour in there. The popovers came out really well, and I think the recipe would probably yield 2-3 dozen popovers in a muffin tray. {I did try to make a Christmas wreath too, but forgot to place a mold in the centre so the dough spread. I think a wreath would look great though!}Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers Oh, I also used an extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil, but feel free to use any neutral oil. Tips: Don’t be tempted to add more flour as the soft, sticky dough yields a light as a cloud result. Also, try and keep the flattened out dough even and thin to achieve a good balance of fruit and bread. BTW, The popovers tasted great the next morning too; as good as new. Nom, nom, nom!This recipe was my first choice as I love baking with fruit, an idea I find entirely charming like the Apricot & Plum Cobbler above which was an earlier SRC choice, and these fun Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies below, again an SRC pick!I also love baking with extra virgin olive oil. I’ve baked with EVOO often – Olive Oil Walnut Brownies, Ottolenghis Olive Oil CrackersChocolate Almond Olive Oil & Whole Wheat Biscotti, Chocolate Matcha Olive Oil Brownies, Olive Oil Schiacciata, Eggless Chocolate & Vanilla Cake, Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake.

The folk at California Olive Oil touched base with me a few days ago as they saw my love for baking with olive oil.  They are trying to introduce folks to the concept of baking with olive oil – for the taste, for the texture, for the moistness, and for their health! You can find the recipe for my Olive Oil Walnut Brownies there too… Throughout December across the online community, California Olive Oil will be sharing chef/health expert interviews, twists on holiday baking recipes, conversion table, and of course, a fun contest to boot! They have partnered with the fine folks at Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods on a Facebook contest as well where you can post your favorite idea pairing California Olive Ranch and Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods. Feel a little less guilty for tasting all those holiday sweet temptations!

Apple Almond Cranberry Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf/Popovers

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 12-15 pop overs

A sweet and tart apple, almond, cranberry mix enveloped in a light, mildly sweet yeasted dough, drizzled with almond flavoured icing ... divine!


Apple-Cranberry Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf

1 portion dough {recipe follows}

3 medium size tart firm apples, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped almonds {I didn't have walnuts}

1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked for a few hours in orange juice

Zest and juice from half a lime {about 2 teaspoons of juice}

Dough {from The Pioneer Womans cinnamon rolls; dough can be made a day ahead}


2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup light olive oil {or vegetable oil}l

1/2 cup sugar

1 packages active dry yeast

4 cups {plus 1/2 cup extra, separated} all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon {heaping} baking powder

1/2 teaspoon {scant} baking soda

2tbsp unsalted butter, melted {optional}


1 cup powdered sugar

3-4 teaspoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond

Cranberries, pistachios, almonds for garnishing

Chilled low fat cream to serve {optional}



    Mix the milk, olive/vegetable oil and sugar in a pan (LARGE POT). Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in the Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute.

    Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

    After rising for at least an hour, add 1/2 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. {At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down}

    Apple Almond Cranberry Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf/Popovers

    Combine apples, sugar, nuts, cranberries and lime juice and zest.

    Pull walnut size pieces of dough with lightly floured hands {mine was very sticky}, and roll into small balls.

    Flatten each ball into a 2-3-inch circle on the palm of your hand, using a little flour if you like as the dough can be quite sticky. Place 1 teaspoon apple mixture in center of each dough circle.

    Pinch edges together to seal, forming a ball. Place filled balls, sealed side down, in a sprayed 9x5-inch loaf pan {I used an 8 X 8 loose bottomed tin, and several single muffin tins. You could also use a muffin tray. I lined the bottoms with circles of parchment and greased the sides. The baked delights came away from the sides quite easily}

    Spoon any remaining apple mixture evenly over the top.

    Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double. Remove wrap, brush with melted butter if desired.

    Bake at 180°C 40-45 minutes. Cover with foil last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Cool for 10 minutes.

    Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool.

    Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over loaf, followed by slivered almonds, pistachios and cranberries if desired.

    Serve warm or at room temperature {with unsweetened low fat cream if desired}

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“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
Mark Kurlansky

Povitica ... A Croatian Sweet Walnut Bread I’m late on the Daring Bakers challenge once again, actually really late! I had no time to get to a Povitica {pronounced po-va-teet-sa}, a culinary creation that sounded like music to my ears! Inspiration came from two wonderful Daring Bakers, Renata & Finla, and I just had to make this delectable looking Croatian Walnut Sweet Yeasted Dough Bread yesterday!Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Povitica is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is traditionally served during the holiday season.  If there is one thing I regret almost not baking, it has to be this bread. I’m eternally glad I stopped by Renata and made a mental note that I must make some soon. Next morning I stopped by Finla, and wild horses couldn’t keep me away from the kitchen. It was time to ‘Po-va-teet-sa’!!! Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread

Povitica, or Croatian walnut bread, is a nostalgic favorite of many Eastern Europeans and their descendants. Also known as Orehnjača (walnut bread) and Makovnjača (poppy seed bread) in Croatia, Povitica is a favorite of many other neighboring cultures. Known also as Potica in Slovenia, Orechovnik in Slovakia and Štrudla in Serbian, recipes vary from region to region and family to family.
Povitica is rolled yeast bread, somewhat akin to strudel. It is typically served at special occasions, such as the holidays, birthdays and weddings. The versatility of this bread makes it perfect for morning coffee, or as a simple dessert. By some, the process of making povitica is revered as a dying art, made by long gone grandmas and aunts in the “old country.” It is said that a gift of povitica from one family to another is a symbol of respect, making it a perfect hostess gift.

Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread Family recipes, and the secrets on how to roll the bread so thin, were passed down through generations of families. I think Jennis choice for the Daring Bakers challenge is exemplary. Not only did she share a window on one of the most delicious yeasted dough breads we have ever had, she has helped preserve an art which is slowly dying… AND the recipe is one this talented lady put together too!Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread All plans for the day were rapidly put on the back burner, as we had bread to bake! Bubbling active yeast must be one of the most satisfying sights in the world. Once that works, I am largely assured that nothing can go wrong … so what if the kids have been home all week, so what if the dogs in her terrible doggie teens, so what if there are piles of laundry to be doneso what???Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread Making the dough and grinding the filling was a breeze all thanks to my trusted Thermomix. I had silky smooth, brioche like dough in minutes, and ground walnuts in seconds. Nothing like it!! Rolling and stretching was slightly nerve racking because I had the kids singing for lunch. I made the bread in fast forward mode, making mistakes along the way, but this beautiful bread is so forgiving {and delicious!}Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut BreadOnce fitted into the loaf tin somewhat poorly, I heard horrified screams from the kids. Rolled my eyes up at hub and he explained it looked like a plucked chicken stuffed into a loaf pan. Uh-oh … indeed pretty unappetizing and like a Halloween joke maybe? Into the oven, and it rose, beginning to take shape. Within the first 15 minutes, it was a beautiful sight! The house was filled with wonderful aromas of sweet bread baking.  It looked and smelt wonderful {no more plucked chicken look!}Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread This challenge was as satisfying and fun as the earlier  Phyllo to Baklava DB one! For all of you who have the spirit of ‘baking adventure in you‘, I would ask you to try your hand making Povitica some day, if not some day soon. It is one of the most beautiful and delicious sweet dough breads we have ever tasted. I plan to make a savoury version soon.

Thank you Jenni for an outstanding daring challenge; it was a beautiful one, very satisying. Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here to see the beautiful baklava our other daring bakers have rolled from scratch!

Povitica, Croatian Walnut Bread

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams

Povitica, Croatian Walnut Bread

Povitica is traditional Eastern European dessert bread served during the holiday season.This walnut version, a Croatian Walnut Bread, is rolled yeast bread made of sweet dough slathered generously with a delicious walnut/chocolate/vanilla filling. It's worth every bit of effort!


To activate the Yeast:

½ tsp sugar

¼ tsp all purpose flour

2 tbsp warm water

1½ tsp dry yeast


{I made this in the Thermomix}

½ Cup (120 ml) 2% milk

3 tbsp (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) sugar

¾ tsp salt

1 large egg

1/2 vanilla bean,scraped

1 tbsp (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) unsalted butter, melted

2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) all-purpose flour


1 egg white, beaten with fork

1½ tsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp melted butter

Filling Ingredients {for one loaf}

1¾ cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) walnuts, ground

¼ cup (60 ml) 2% milk

¼ Cup (60 ml/58 gm/½ stick/2 oz) unsalted butter

1 egg yolk, beaten with fork

½ vanilla bean, scraped

½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder


    To Activate Yeast:

    In a small bowl, stir sugar, flour, and the yeast into warm water and cover with plastic wrap.

    Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

    To Make the Dough:

    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.{I just heated it to 'hot enough' in the microwave}

    In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, sugar, and the salt until combined.

    Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups of flour.

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

    Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.

    Dough in Thermomix:

    Place all ingredients in bowl of TM. Process at Speed 6 for 6 seconds, and then knead for 2 minutes. Done!

    Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, 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.{Mine tripled}

    To Make the Filling

    In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar and cocoa. {I whizzed the walnuts, cocoa, scraped vanilla bean and sugar in the Thermomix}

    Heat the milk and butter to boiling.

    Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.

    Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

    Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.

    If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk {This is important}

    To Roll and Assemble the Dough:

    Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.

    Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour {use flour sparingly}

    Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches in diameter

    Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of melted butter on top.{I forgot to do this}

    Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.

    As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.

    When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.

    Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered. {It should spread easily else the dough will tear. Mine did as the filling was initially a bit thick}

    Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll

    Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced

    Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar. {Original recipe uses strong coffee instead of egg white}

    Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.

    Preheat oven to moderate 180°C.

    Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

    Turn down the oven temperature to slow 150°C and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done. {Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.}

    Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.

    Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread is heavy about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.

    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.

    Changes I made:

    Used a scraped vanilla bean in both the dough and filling, increased the rising time, used more cocoa, didn't use cinnamon, used an egg white wash instead of coffee {and placed the dough in the loaf pan all wrong!}.


    There are several options for storing Povitica:

    • 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

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