There are two things that immediately come to my mind when I think of Easter: Croatian sweet Easter bread we call “Pinca” and decorated eggs dyed using the red onions skins. So that’s why I decided those two to be my blog posts for this week before Easter.
Living abroad as an expat means you always get this mix of different feelings for holidays, you are happy and grateful for all the new experiences that this way of life offers but at the same time you are nostalgic and even sad at times, you miss home and your family and friends more on those special days.
My way of handling is to bring some of those memories and traditions with me wherever I am and somehow when my home smells of the sweet bread my mum bakes for Easter or vanilla cookies that we would bake together in Christmas time or when my fingers are covered with flour when baking a traditional cake my grandmother would bake for those special occasions, my heart finds peace and I feel like home is here, with me, wherever I might be…
That is a reason why I love food so much, it’s all the memories and stories we connect we certain foods and just a smell or a process of making it can bring us back in time instantly.
“Pinca”, slightly sweet bread with a hint of lemon and orange zest, traditionally is brought to the Church in the basket (together with eggs) to be blessed by the priest before being eaten for Easter breakfast. Other traditional food that we eat in Croatia on this special day are spring onions, radishes, cooked ham with horseradish sauce and of course eggs.
The recipe I use to make “Pinca” will actually give you three of them so it’s a great recipe if you have a big family or if you want to give one or two to a friend. However if you feel that is too much, you can just use half of the quantities and that will give you two smaller breads that, believe me, will disappear in a day!
- 1 kg (8 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 sachet dry yeast (1 sachet = 7g = 1.5 teaspoons)
- 200 g (just under 1 cup) unsalted butter
- 200 g (1 cup) sugar (I replace sugar with xylitol)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 400 ml (1 ¾ cups) milk ( I use plant-based milk)
- 2 lemon zest (organic, untreated)
- 1 orange zest (organic, untreated)
- 2 tablespoons rakija (Croatian type of grappa, you can use Italian grappa or rum)
- pinch of salt
- Note: these are the quantities for 3 smaller Pinca bread but you can use half of all the quantities to get one larger Pinca bread.
- In a large mixing bowl combine flour and dry yeast.
- Mix in the butter (soften at room temperature) and then add sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract, grated orange and lemon zest, rakija (grappa or rum) and a pinch of salt.
- Slowly add warm milk and combine kneading until the dough forms. Dough should be compact with a relatively smooth surface.
- Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place at least 2-3 hours until it doubles in size.
- After that knead it for a minute or two, divide in 3 equal parts and form the balls. Put each dough ball separately on a tray lined with baking (parchment) paper and let rise for at least another hour.
- Once they are well risen, make three deep cuts on the upper side of each bread, from the center towards the edge down in three directions. Glaze them with a mixture of whisked egg and a little bit of granulated sugar.
- Bake them in the oven previously heated to 200 C (390 F) for about 35-45 minutes. I suggest covering them with a baking paper for the last 15 minutes as otherwise they will get too browned on the top.
- Let the cool at room temperature and enjoy!