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Looking for a seasonal specialty for my customers at A&B Naturals, I came upon an Italian Christmas bread, Pinza, that, after crossing the border to Austria, switched holidays – and turned into Easter bread, Pinze.
After a solemn blessing in the church, this lovely Styrian Easter bread (often adorned by a red egg, and cut three times, to symbolize the Holy Trinity) is served with the meat on Easter Sunday.
|Steiermark – Styria, home of the Easter Pinze|
There are several versions for Pinze, and it is either seasoned with vanilla or anise. The anise can be steeped in wine or cooked in milk to extract its flavor.
All recipes include lots of eggs and egg yolks,
so keep the Lipitor at hand, but I’m sure it is good for you, since it comes with a blessing.
|Eggs for 2016 Pinze production|
I tried a Pinze version with anise, soaked in wine. Though the bread turned out quite nice, I couldn’t detect much anise aroma.
The bread, made in 3 steps with 2 pre-ferments, was wonderful. The only problem: its time consuming schedule would not work for my little bakery, unless I pulled off an all-nighter. So I turned to my favorite method: stretch & fold plus overnight stay in the fridge.
That way I could work the dough all at once, and let the folding and cold fermentation do the rest.
No pre-doughs needed, very little hands-on time, and no standing around, waiting for pre-ferments and dough to rise.
In other words, the baker could hug her pillow, while the yeasties did their job!
My overnight version was just as good as the original, more involved one!
The Easter Pinze is a soft bread with a wonderful flavor. Though slightly sweet, it can be served with Easter Ham, like in Austria. Or, as we did, enjoyed simply with some good butter, or jam.
|Almost too pretty to eat – Easter Pinzes|
OSTER-PINZE – AUSTRIAN EASTER BREAD (adapted from Petra Holzapfel’s Chili und Ciabatta)
(3 small loaves)
463 g/16.3 oz all-purpose flour
52 g/1.8 oz whole wheat flour
8 g/0.3 oz instant yeast (for a yeast conversion see here)
160 g/5.6 oz milk
70 g/2.5 oz sugar
50 g/1.8 oz egg yolks (ca. 3)*
75 g/2.6 oz eggs (ca. 1 1/2)*
75 g/2.6 oz butter
5 g/0.2 oz salt
4 g/1 tsp. vanilla extract (or seeds of 1 vanilla bean)
15 g/1 tbsp. lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
*if your eggs or yolks weigh a little bit less than the recipe amount, add some of the remaining egg whites to reach the weight.
1 tbsp. milk
1 pinch sugar
1 pinch salt
Heat butter with the milk, until melted (stove top or microwave). The milk should not come to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in first egg yolks and eggs, then the yeast.
Add egg milk to other dough ingredients in mixer bowl, and mix for 1-2 minutes at low speed, until all flour is hydrated. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then continue kneading at medium-low speed for 6 minutes. Dough will stick to bottom of bowl, but pull (mostly) back from the sides (don’t worry, and don’t add more flour!)
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled work surface and, with oiled hands, pull it into a square. Fold dough from top and bottom like a business letter in thirds. Repeat folding from both sides. Cover dough package (upside down mixer bowl) and let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter.
Repeat stretching and folding 2-3 more times, at 10 minute intervals, until gluten structure has developed, and dough starts to resist the stretching (don’t tear it!) After the last fold, place dough, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. (I usually portion it at this point, and put it in individual containers.)
|Nicely risen overnight – you can see the gas bubbles on the front side|
Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using. It should have almost doubled.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide it into 3 equal parts (about 325 g each).
|Brush breads with egg wash|
Shape pieces into rounds, and place them, seam side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush breads with egg wash, spray with baking spray, cover, and let rise for about 60 minutes, or until doubled and fully proofed – finger poke test: a dimple should not fill up. (If breads are not fully proofed, they open too wide during the bake!).
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375°F/180°C. (No steam).
|Re-apply egg wash and cut the Pinze pattern|
Re-apply egg wash. Using scissors, make 3 deep cuts into the loaves, to create the traditional Pinze pattern.
Bake breads for 12 minutes, cover them loosely with tin foil, rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees, then continue baking for another about 18 minutes, or until they register 190ºF/93ºC. (Mine took even longer than 18 minutes).
Let breads cool on a rack.
TIP: Pinze keep fresh for 2-3 days, wrapped in plastic foil. You can also freeze them, wrapped in foil and placed in a freezer bag.
|Glorious Easter Pinzes|
Submitted to Yeast Spotting