Pinca – Sirnica – Croatian Easter bread

Pinca – Sirnica – Croatian Easter bread

Pinca - Sirnica {Croatian Easter bread} reipe

Being a person that doesn’t partake in Easter traditions doesn’t mean I can’t eat the food that goes along for the ride. Take this pinca – also called sirnica – for instance.

This sweet bread is usually made on the morning of Holy Saturday; starting bright and early so that, by late afternoon, the cooled loaf can be placed into a basket with other bits like boiled eggs and ham. Then off to mass the basket of food is taken, to be blessed and eaten on Easter Sunday for breakfast.

When I was a youngster we never quite got as far as doing the mass thing, and come to think of it, I don’t think this bread was ever made, either. It was regular bread on our Easter Sunday breakfast table, along with boiled eggs that we dyed the night before, lots of sliced ham, spring onions, horseradish and hot mustard. I still remember rubbing the dyed eggs with a piece of speck fat; a process that makes them all nice and glossy.

Pinca, or sirnica, is akin to brioche. It’s soft and buttery and very aromatic thanks to lemon and orange zest that fleck its dense innards. There’s even a little booze in there, as well. Brandy by tradition, but I used marsala as that was all I had in the liquor cupboard. I don’t think tequila or rakija would cut it, somehow.

Typically, a cross is cut into the top of the dough before it gets baked – for obvious reasons, you know. And traditionally you’re meant to scatter the top with crushed sugar cubes, but thanks to not having seen sugar cubes for decades, I’ve dusted the top with the powdered stuff.

Powdered sugar, a fern pattern and no sugar cubes. I sense many bakas are turning in their graves.

Pinca - Sirnica {Croatian Easter bread} recipe

Pinca - Sirnica {Croatian Easter bread} recipe

 

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Pinca - Sirnica - Croatian Easter bread
Call it Pinca or call it Sirnica - this Croatian Easter bread is quite tasty and much like an aromatic brioche.
Pinca - Sirnica {Croatian Easter bread} recipe
Servings
loaves
Servings
loaves
Pinca - Sirnica {Croatian Easter bread} recipe
Instructions
  1. Combine the milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl or jug. Stir well and set aside to proof.
  2. Place the flour and butter into a food processor and pulse until the butter has incorporated into the flour. Transfer the flour mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and lemon-orange zest and mix well, using a whisk.
  3. Lightly mix the egg yolks, vanilla and marsala then add to the flour, along with the yeast milk. Using your hand, bring the mixture together to form a dough and knead for 10 minutes until it springs back when touched. Alternatively, use a mixer with dough attachment.
  4. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rest in a warm place to rise for 2-3 hours. It may even take 4 hours to double in size.
  5. Line a baking tray with paper and spray lightly with oil. Set aside.
  6. Once the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and cut into even quarters. Roll each quarter into a prefect ball and place onto the lined and greased baking tray. Allow to rise again for 1½ - 2 hours before baking.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  8. Brush each ball of dough with the beaten egg, then cut a shallow cross into the tops of each. Traditionally, it's at this point that you scatter over some crushed sugar cubes, if you can find them.
  9. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes out clean when tested.
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