For the rest of our trip throughout the country I searched in vain for more of this delicious bread, which I learned was called sirnica (sir-neet-za). But alas. And so I promised myself that, even with my lack of baking skills and my penchant for becoming generally enraged in the kitchen, I would try to make it myself the next Easter.
Well folks, the next Easter is now. Or, it will be. (Though it’ll totes be over when I post that. Far out.) I’ve run out of room to hide. Follow along, won’t you, as I prepare to undoubtedly start throwing things in the kitchen, alienating George, and creating some inedible (and possible un-bakeable) Croatian Easter Bread.
Step 1: Hmmm, I’ve gathered my ingredients and set them out nicely on the counter. It’s early morning, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining. What can possibly go wrong?
Step 2: Uh, uh. First hiccup. The recipe I found online using Serious Research Methods (ie: picking the easiest looking recipe after searching for like five minutes) seems to be missing a step. I’m told where to use the first half of the required quantity of milk, but not the second half. A followup Google search shows me that all of the sirnica recipes I’ve looked at are all totally different from one another. This can’t be good.
Step 3: I’ve opted to “just wing it,” which, if the sense in my gut is right, is probably a terrible idea. Winging it isn’t really something you do in baking, and it definitely seems like it isn’t really something you should do when baking bread. But then again, I’m pretty lazy. Meh?
Step 5: Wait. I’m supposed to cover this thing up with a towel (why is that grossing me out?) and it will allegedly double in size? Pipe dream. Also, when I look at “before and after” pictures on the e-webs, the before pictures look WAY prettier than my crackled mess. George is giggling at my early sense of defeat and fingering his camera in a not-so-subtle manner. Well, I guess a watched pot never boils, right? Time to go pace around the house for two hours.
Step 6: Guys, this thing DEFINITELY didn’t double. It’s bigger, but it doesn’t look like the gigantic puffball of my dreams. Yet, the combination of my impatience and my lack of understanding of the process leaves me thinking it’s best to continue down the path...largely because it appears I get to punch things next.
Step 8: THE BREAD KEEPS GROWING! Screw it, I’m putting it in the oven. Hold me.
Step 9: Okay, my cutting blunder is evident in a more “wide” bread than I was hoping for, but is it me or is this delicious? It’s not as sweet as whatever I had in Croatia, but I’m certainly not sad to be eating it. Did I miraculously avert a Bread-Tastrophy here?
Step 10: I think I did! It’s several hours later and George has consumed about 85% of the one loaf. And that, my friends, is good enough for me.
1: Mix 1 tbsp sugar, 100 ml of room temp milk, and 1 packet of yeast together. Let it get all nasty and bubbly for like 15 minutes. 2: Add your nasty yeasty into a mixing bowl with 4 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, zest of one lemon and one orange, 3 tbsp vanilla sugar, 3 egg yolks, and 1/3 cup super soft butter. Oh and throw in another 100 ml milk. Watch the balling magic happen! 3: Shape your dough into a nice ball, put it in a big bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel for a coupla hours or until it doubles in size. 4; Remove the dough, punch the air out of it, and separate it into two round loaves. Beat one egg and brush some of it over each loaf, letting them rise further for 30 minutes or so. Repeat. 5; Give the loaves a final egg wash, sprinkle them with more vanilla sugar, and cut a pretty deep cross into the tops before backing at 375 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are golden brown) 6; Feast, and ponder if this this tastes even remotely like what you had in Croatia. Maybe, maybe not, but boy is it yum.