Povitica – An Eastern European dessert for the Daring Bakers Challenge

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!

Have you ever heard of Povitica? I hadn’t until this challenge. Honestly, I really didn’t want to participate because this recipe seemed quite difficult. There were so many steps that I even missed one. Oops! I started watching the other bakers as they finished their challenges and became inspired. Their loaves turned out so beautifully and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it as well. I also wanted an excuse to use one of my most prized possessions, besides my Kitchen Aid mixer, my marble rolling pin which was handed down to me from my mom who received it from her Aunt. I remember seeing that rolling pin in my great aunt’s dining room when I was a kid, and I always thought it was so cool. I bet she never could have imagined that it would end up in my hands and that I’d be using it weekly….thanks Aunt Iva!

As I say with most of my Daring Cooks recipes, this isn’t for the novice baker. In fact, it almost wasn’t for me either. The thought of rolling out that dough and having to fold it really scared me. But it wasn’t tough at all. I should have known better. There have been many times in my life that I was scared of something that turned out to be less painful than expect or not painful at all. I guess the lesson in all of this is to always give yourself the opportunity to know if you like something or not. I almost declined to participate in this challenge because I thought it would be too hard. I’m so glad I didn’t. This Povitica was delicious! My children loved it, my friend loved it and even the neighbors liked it. If you are looking for a challenge and a way to impress a guest that may be from Eastern Europe, make them a Povitica.

Recipe by: Jenni of The Gingered Whisk
Printable Recipe

To activate the Yeast:
½ Teaspoon Sugar
¼ Teaspoon All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (1 package) Rapid Rising Yeast

½ Cup Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons Sugar
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

(I accidentally forgot this step)
2 Tablespoons Cold STRONG Coffee
1½ Teaspoons Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Adapted from: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2011/03/23/caramel-crumb-bars/

1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cans (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk


To activate the yeast:

Add sugar, flour and yeast to a bowl of warm, not hot, water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes.

Yeast after 5 minutes.

To prepare the dough:

In a medium saucepan, heat milk to the scalding point stirring constantly. Do not boil. Allow to cool slightly before using.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, 3 tbsp. sugar, and the salt. Add the beaten egg, melted butter and 1/2 cup of the flour. Switch to the dough hook (or remove and knead the rest of the flour in by hand), kneading with the dough hook and adding in the flour until the dough starts to clean the bowl. I used almost all of the 2 cups of flour. Remove from the bowl and knead in any additional flour until the surface of the dough is smooth and does not stick.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 90 minutes).

Cover a large countertop or table with a clean bed sheet. Lightly dust with flour to prevent sticking. Turn risen dough out onto cloth and begin rolling it out using a rolling pin.

Start from the center and work outward. Roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spoon 1 teaspoon of melted butter on top of the dough and then begin spreading the dough with your hands. You can also use a rolling pin to achieve a flatter dough.

The dough should be thin enough to see through. Be sure to continually pick up the dough to ensure that it’s not sticking. Once the dough it paper thin, begin preparing the filling.

To prepare the filling:

Add butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering. Continue to simmer until the mixture begins to smell caramely and it changes color slightly. Use the caramel immediately or else it will be impossible to spread on the dough.

Rolling and Assembling the Bread:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a spatula, spread the caramel over the top of the dough leaving a rim around the edge to ensure a good seal once the dough is rolled.

After the caramel is spread out completely, begin rolling the dough into a long snake. Use the sheet to lift up and let the dough roll itself up like a jelly roll. This technique works really well.

Grease a standard sized loaf pan and place a portion of the dough into the pan, forming a “U” shaped with the 2 ends sticking out of the pan. Next, fold the 2 loose ends back into the pan making sure that they are coiled around one another to ensure that the bread has the unique, swirled look when it is sliced.

Mix coffee and sugar and brush over the top of the bread and place in preheated oven.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and then lower temperature to 300 and then bake for an additional 45 minutes.

Remove bread from oven and brush with butter.

Let bread sit in pan for 30 minutes, although I used a knife to ensure that the caramel wouldn’t stick and make it impossible to remove from the pan.

Slice and serve!


Moo Shu Pork – The Daring Cooks Challenge

The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

When I heard about this challenge, I was a little scared. I had never even tasted Moo Shu, much less cooked it. I didn’t know what hoisin sauce should taste like, but once I had all of the ingredients mixed together in the bowl, I knew I was going to really like it. It smelled amazing!

Here’s my recommendation to you. If you don’t have time to make the homemade “pancakes,” just use flour tortillas. The Moo Shu and hoisin sauce are easy and won’t take long to prepare. If you like Moo Shu and have never made it, my recipe would be a good one to try for the first time.

To see the other chefs that completed this challenge, visit this website.

Hoisin Sauce
Adapted from: Epicurean.com
Printable Recipe


4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Whisk together all ingredients until combined. This may take a while, so keep stirring. You can store in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Moo Shu Pork
Printable Recipe


4 tablespoons hoisin sauce (homemade using posted recipe)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3/4-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons water
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (I used 1, 1 ounce package of dried mushrooms reconstituted)
1 14-ounce bag coleslaw mix
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Whisk together hoisin sauce, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.

Marinate pork tenderloin for 10-15 minutes.

Add 1 tbsp. sesame oil to large skillet or wok and heat over high heat. Remove pork from marinade using tongs and add to skillet. Saute over high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until pork is no longer pink.

Remove pork and place in a bowl. Add 4 tbsp. water to skillet and scrap down the sides and bottom of the pan. Pour pan juices over the pork.

Add 1 tbsp. sesame oil to skillet and heat over high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until golden - about 1 minute.

Add coleslaw to skillet and saute until it becomes wilted - approximately 4 minutes.

Add pork to skillet, including juices, reserved marinade and green onions. Saute for an additional 2 minutes. Serve with homemade pancakes.

Thin Pancakes
Makes 12-18 pancakes
Printable Recipe


2 cups all purpose flour
About 3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting


Sift the flour into a mixing bowl.

Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.

Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 2 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.

Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.

Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.

Chicken Tortilla Soup, Homemade Stock and Cornmeal Honey Bread for Daring Cooks

Let me start out by saying…this is a long post.

A couple of days ago I was accepted into the Daring Kitchen to participate in the Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers Challenges. I absolutely love that I am going to start participating in these challenges, but the recipes somewhat go against what I’m trying to promote here…simple and quick. The recipe challenges that are given to us each month are in no way “simple.”

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I decided against making Consommé this time, but would love to try it someday. I found a great recipe for bread that I wanted to try. Bread is one of those tricky things that I have had some success at, but I keep trying. Once again, the bread is not for a novice baker, but it’s ok to try if you are ready to learn. It’s not as tough as it seems.

The bread rose nicely and was very easy to work with, especially if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer. If you ever plan to be a foodie like me, a KA mixer is a must.
The bread was amazingly good both served warm and cooled. I have to thank the hubby for helping with the bread. I had an appointment, and I didn’t time my bread preparation properly. He has been such a good sport through all of this!

The chicken stock is ohhhhh so good. I’m not sure why I haven’t made my own more often. I am going to start saving all of my veggie scraps to use for future batches of stock. This recipe was really easy. Just make sure you do it when you have 4 hours to be home. You aren’t cooking that entire time, so don’t be scared!

The tortilla soup is super easy. Use canned or fresh ingredients. I used all fresh just to make it extra special, but canned works just fine. Just don’t forget to put the chicken in the pot (not that I speak from experience or anything). You can serve this with the bread recipe from this post, or tortilla chips. You can also top with cheese and sour cream. YUM!

The process of making the stock, soup and bread took a lot of time. Taking the pictures, writing about it and posting everything online took just as long. I’m so glad that everything turned out so good, and I hope that you will try to make something you have read here today. If you made it through reading this entire post, you deserve a gold star for the day!

Chicken Tortillas Soup with Homemade Stock



1 large, whole chicken
2 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
4 carrots, unpeeled and roughly chopped
3 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
10 sprigs fresh parsley
5 sprigs fresh thyme
10 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns


Place the chicken, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a 16 quart stockpot. Add 5 quarts (20 cups) of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours, removing the chicken after 2 or 3 hours and returning the carcass back to the pot for the remainder of the cooking time. Set chicken aside to cool, and once cool, shred or chop and store in refrigerator. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. Chill the stock overnight. The next day, skim fat from the surface and use immediately or pour stock in containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Chicken and veggies in the stock pot

Stock after 2 hours and with chicken meat removed

Final product after straining everything twice

About 10 cups of stock ready to be stored

Chicken Tortilla Soup


2 cups whole kernel corn (canned, fresh or thawed frozen)
3-1/2 cups chicken stock (see above)
1-1/2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or cubed)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1-1/4 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles


Place corn, stock, chicken, beans, tomatoes, and chilis into large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until thoroughly warmed.


Cornmeal Honey Bread

Recipe from: Andrea at Cooking Books which was adopted from Beth Hensperger’s Beth’s Basic Bread Book

*I really loved the way Andrea narrated this recipe below, so I just copied her exact recipe, word for word. She has a lot of good recipes on her blog, so go and check her out.


3/4 cups warm water (105F – 115F)
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
Pinch of granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups warm buttermilk (105F – 115F) (it might separate a bit when being heated, but that ain’t no thing so don’t worry about it)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 more tablespoons melted for brushing
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal, fine or medium grind, plus a bit extra for sprinkling
4 1/2 – 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


The first step in this easy bread (and in any bread) is to proof the yeast. Which is just a fancy way of saying put it in some warm water, give it something to munch on (the sugar) and wake it up (yeast is a living thing, after all). To proof it, pour the 3/4 cups warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast and the sugar on top. Give it a gentle stir with a fork so the yeast dissolves and just let it sit there for about 10 minutes until it’s a bit foamy.

To make the dough fit your standing mixer with the paddle attachment, and pour the buttermilk, the melted butter and the honey into the bowl of the mixer. Add the salt, cornmeal, and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the now-bloomed yeast. Add the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing between each addition. The dough will be soft and a bit sticky, but if it’s too sticky to handle, add more flour.

As the dough begins to come together, you’ll have to switch the paddle out for the dough hook, or just turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand. Kneed it for about 3 minutes with the dough hook until it becomes smooth, not overly sticky and elastic. It shouldn’t be dry, so be judicious with any extra additions of flour.

Take the dough out of the bowl and set aside. Lightly grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl, rolling it over so that it is coated. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for about 1.5 hours, until it’s doubled in volume. Go do something else.

Dough before rising

Dough after rising

Come back, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then sprinkle the extra cornmeal on the paper. Set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Dough before dividing

Divide it in half, which will deflate the dough. Shape the dough into two round loaves. Place the loaves seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let the loaves rise again at room temperature for about 45 minutes, until doubled in bulk.

Divided dough

Preheat the oven to 375F. When the dough is risen, use a sharp knife to cut an ‘x’ into the top of each loaf, which should not be deeper than 1/4 inch. Brush the loaves with the rest of the melted butter and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger. Remove from the oven and transfer the loaves to cooling racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.