Having survived what we hope is the worst our North American winter for the year, March welcomes happy thoughts of spring. While we see the winter thaw, our clocks move forward one hour to Daylight Savings Time, garden centres start filling their inventory, and stores remind us that Easter celebrations are soon upon us. Continue this “spring awakening” in the kitchen this Easter with freshly-baked bread, such as Pinca.
Pinca is a traditional Croatian cake, or bread, made at Easter time. It is eaten to celebrate the end of Lent. No doubt if you travel on a Croatia vacation during Easter, you’ll get wafts of freshly baked pinca welcoming you into local bakeries. The taste is similar to a hot-cross bun, as is the shape, although some form it into a loaf and even cut a cross into it as a symbol for Easter.
Offering a nice, fruity flavour, why not follow in Croatian tradition and serve pinca at your Easter breakfast table, along with other traditional Croatian Easter foods like ham and decorated eggs, radishes, and spring onion.
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon
- 7 tablespoons/ 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1/2 orange
- 5 oz (150 ml) warm milk
- freshly-squeezed juice of 1 orange
- 1 cup (100 g) raisins
- 1 egg yolk
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Combine dry yeast with 1 teaspoon sugar and warm milk. Let it rise for 5 minutes.
- Combine raisins with orange juice and leave aside for 1 hour.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, melted yeast, melted butter, eggs, lemon, and orange zest. Knead until the dough forms. It should be on the soft side. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour in a warm environment.
- Drain raisins and knead them into the risen dough. Divide the dough into equal pieces to make hot cross buns. (Optional: with a sharp knife, cut a cross approx. 1/8″ deep into each bun.) If you prefer, you can divide the dough into 3 equal parts and roll into long, equal rolls. Entwine them to make a braid.
- Place dough on baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and brush with egg yolk. Let rise for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 356°F (180°C) and bake the bread for 30 minutes. Let it cool.
- As an option, sprinkle the loaf or buns with powdered sugar before serving.