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
Pinca - Sirnica {Croatian Easter bread} recipe
  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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  • AmandaChewTown

    Haha, despite turning in their grave, your Pinca looks delightful! I love the sound of the ingredients and can only bet your kitchen smelt so fragrant!

  • Turning in their grave? See, when I make Italian nonna’s turn in their grave, it’s because I’ve b4stardised a classic dish by giving it an Italian spin (e.g. Italian quiche. Seriously. So. Good.) Whereas you manage to do it in a classy way.

    OK. In a nod to Easter, I will make this this weekend. Yeast and I are not the best of friends. Though I AM getting into sourdough lately.

    Just to confirm – normal flour? Not bread flour? Because I don’t have the energy to go back to the shops for bread flour. If you mean bread flour, it will have to wait until Saturday!

    • Hmm, Can’t guarantee bread flour will produce the same result, Nagi. I’d say give it a shot. You just need to be patient with the dough rising. It takes a bit longer than normal due to its density. Have fun!

      • I confused you! (Screwed up face emoticon) What I meant was this – the recipe just says flour. So you definitely mean normal plain flour, not bread flour? I’m no yeast expert but 99% of the recipes I’ve made with yeast required bread flour. 🙂

  • I think, if they are spinning in their graves, it’s from pride. You have made some gorgeous bread here – won’t get to it for Easter – but maybe next weekend (Greek Easter?). I absolutely love sweet breads like this. The fern patterns are really beautiful within the cross – altogether, very impressive. Happy un-Easter! (We are going to the horse races, believe it or not…)

  • I have seen pinca cut like that before. And I can understand why people would buy it rather than make it. It takes a lot of time from start to finish!

  • Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    I actually avoided Easter this year, jumped on a plane and fled. Could of quite happily fled with this baby in my luggage. Even if we don’t celebrate, we sure can stuff our faces on all the Easter treats.

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