Often called Croatian Easter Bread this traditional Easter delight, Pinca, is basically a sweet bread that is served sometimes with butter and a cup of coffee. It is relatively straightforward to make although it is important to follow some golden rules.
If you want to make a traditional Croatian Easter feast then one thing must be near the top of the list, Pinca, or sweet bread. Pinca is usually flavoured with citrus fruits and sometimes contains dried fruit and rum. When complete is looks like a rounded loaf of bread, or maybe a large bread roll.
It is traditionally made on the Saturday before Easter and then served on Easter morning. Whilst many families have their own recipe, which has been passed down through generations, we are going to offer you the simplest recipe, let’s face it if you aren’t a baker then you are already at a disadvantage. But although the recipe is fairly simple the preparation isn’t, this is a time consuming process waiting for the dough to rise. The key to a good pinca is that it is light and soft and has a certain foamy quality. Here is the recipe for two pincas, or up to 16 servings, so you’ll have plenty to share around at the Easter period.
Ingredients for 2 Pinca Bread loaves
5 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons active dry yeast 1 tablespoon sugar 100 grams raisins 100 grams of milk 2 tablespoons brandy or rum (if you have some Croatian brandy or rum even better) 200 grams of sugar 150 grams of butter 4 large egg yolks 2 teaspoons orange zest 2 teaspoons lemon zest 1 tablespoon vanilla
Recipe for 2 Pinca Bread loaves (serves up to 16 people)
Add the yeast, 1 tb of sugar and milk into a smallish mixing bowl and stir well with a fork. Cover the mixture and put it in a dark, dry place
Combine the raisins with the brandy/rum in a bowl and leave to one side for the dried fruit to soak up the alcohol
Combine the butter with the flour until you get a fine crumble. This might be easier to do in a large mixer
Knead the dough, adding the egg yolks, yeast mixture, citrus zests, sugar and vanilla. Again this step is easier if you have a mixer with a knead attachment, if not you’ll need some “elbow grease”. Knead until the dough forms a ball shape
Near the end of the kneading add the raisins and rum/brandy. Knead until the raisins are evenly distributed throughout the dough. If the mixture is too wet then add more flour, if it is too dry then add milk
Now comes the important step. Cover the bowl with grease-proof paper and leave it rise (in a dry, dark spot) for around 2 hours. The mixture should almost double in size
Divide the dough in half and shape each into a round loaf
Place each round loaf onto a baking pan, spacing well apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size. Again this can take 2 hours
Preheat the oven to 190°C
Using as knife cut an X into the top of the loaves and brush the top of the loaves with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for between 30 and 45 minutes. And when finished allow to cool.