I present to you Croatian Easter bread Pinca or how some call it Sirnica. It depends what part of Croatia you are from how you call it, but I grew up calling it Sirnica. My grandmother made best ones and she would often send us some in packages for Easter, we would eat them with such joy, me and my brother dipping them in hot cocoa and my mom enjoying them with a cup of tea. It is a beautifully aromatic sweet bread and uses rose oil or rose water for some of it special flavor. It is not obvious what it is in case this scares you – combined with some citrus, the flavor is divine!
This year I must say they turned out absolutely amazing, and they had better, I used some of my last eggs on them. There’s a lot of eggs going into these babies but it’s so worth it! My kids have been happily eating them the last few days – and dipping them in hot cocoa, it makes me so happy. I’ve enjoyed having a slice for my breakfast too, it takes me straight back to my childhood. I made three big ones this time (you could make four smaller/medium ones too from this recipe) and we have one more left, just to get us through to Easter!
Croatian Easter Bread Pinca
2.2 lbs (1kg) all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
8 eggs + 1 for the egg-wash
7/8 cups (200g) butter, room temperature
100-150 ml warm milk
14g dry yeast (2 bags)
2 Tbsp spiced Rum
peel of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
1/2 tsp Rose oil (or 2 tsp of Rose water)
2 sachets of vanilla sugar or 1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange oil
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp salt
Take your eggs and separate yolks from the egg whites and beat the egg whites to firm peaks.
Take the yolks and mix them with sugar and room temperature butter for 4-5 minutes. Add the rum, orange and lemon peel, the oils and extracts and vanilla sugar. Fold in the egg whites.
Mix in the yeast and salt with the flour then fold it into the egg and butter mix, adding as much milk as needed to make bread dough consistency. I used just a little over 130 ml milk to achieve this.
Knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes then transfer it in a bowl and cover it, put in a warm spot and let it rise for 2-3 hours.
After this first proof, knead the dough for a minute then cut in 3 or 4 pieces, depending how big you want your Pinca, and shape them into balls. Put on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cover. Let rise again for another hour to hour and a half.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the egg-wash by beating well one egg. Uncover your dough and generously brush with egg-wash then take scissors and cut three slits on top of each Pinca, almost like an X but with just three slits.
Take some sugar cubes and put them in a ziploc bag and crush them a few times using a heavy pan. Liberally sprinkle over your Pinca, focusing more on the sides of it, not the part where the slits are.
Put into pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes, you may cover it with some aluminum foil the last 10 minutes if it’s browning too much.
Let it cool completely before cutting into them, they really do taste better at room temperature.