It was a rainy Sunday on the last day of Christmas vacation and I was feeling pretty gloomy after dropping our daughter off at the airport. What tasks did I have to look forward to for the rest of the afternoon? A stack of bills, bank statements and invoicing.
So what to do instead? Ready, set, bake!
If you’ve happened to tune into the “Great British Baking Show” on PBS or Netflix, then you know that those are the words that start the competition. The show is a “bake-off” – although they can’t call it that in the US because Pillsbury owns those words – in which 13 amateur bakers compete over 10 episodes until there are only three left to vie for the title of the UK’s best baker.
So what does the British Baking show have to do with getting out of a funk? A couple of things. Valerie and I love the show so during the few days that she was home over New Years, we had some quality bonding time re-watching several of the episodes.
We love the show because unlike so many of the shows on the Food Network that run at a frenetic pace and feature abrasive personalities, watching the “Great British Baking Show” is like a soothing balm. The setting for the show is idyllic with cut-away shots to bumblebees humming around flowers and fuzzy white lambs grazing in lush green meadows. And the competitors are unfailingly polite and self-deprecating with their charming British accents when they lament “massively overproving the dough.” There must be endorphins coming out of the screen because by the time the episode ends, I feel so relaxed and happy.
Because I’ve always enjoyed baking and it’s a common interest that I share with my daughters, heading into the kitchen is a comforting activity for me. So with Valerie back in Southern California and Jennifer on the other side of the world, I wanted to lift my spirits by baking something from the show. Even though they weren’t in the kitchen with me, the measuring, mixing and kneading made them seem close.
So in honor of Episode #8 that Valerie and I watched before she packed up to leave for the airport, here’s my attempt at Povitica, an Eastern European sweet bread. It’s not quite “Star Baker” level but I’m pretty pleased with the results. And the house smelled fantastic while it was baking!
The dough after proving….
The dough is rolled and stretched and then a paste of chocolate, sugar and walnuts is spread on it.
At this point, I’m having my doubts about the outcome. Is this an alien or bread?!
After rising for almost two hours, it’s looking more promising as it goes into the oven.
Success! I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have Mary and Paul sample my Povitica.