Friday, April 6, 2012

Croatian Easter Bread (Sirnica - Week 14)

As promised, I am blogging my annual baking frenzy - Croatian Easter Bread!  This time I used only local fresh eggs, organic and locally grown lemons plus my usual major imported Croatian booze!  You can use nearly any golden colored liquor but it has to be sweet.  You can find this lovely kruskovac at Alpine Village Market in the LA area (when I lived in San Pedro - aka 'Pedro - this place stocked most of the supplies necessary to create a totally faux Hvar!)  Easter is a really big deal to my Dad's side of the family (only slightly more than my Mom's which come from the Dubrovnik region) .  This may be because of the whole procession on Hvar.  See (LOL....most of these guys in the You Tube clip look like my relatives!!)

Easter Bread
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 packages of yeast
1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 cubes butter
1/2 c. regular milk
1 c. sugar
1 (6 oz) can evaporated milk
1 whole eggs
1 egg yolk (white reserved to brush later)
1 orange zest
1 orange juiced
1 lemon zest
1 Tbsp. anise flavoring
1/2 c. sugar
1 jigger of brandy
1 jigger of kruskovac (pear liquor)
2 1/2 c. flour (plus about 3 or 4 more c.)
1/4 c. Bari orange infused olive oil

Pick out three separate bowls and set them aside.  In the first bowl, mix the top set of ingredients in to a yeasty batter then set aside in a warm quiet place until bubbly. In a sauce pan, mix the second set and heat until the sugar dissolves.  Keep warm.  In the second brown combine the last set (EXCEPT for the flour).  Do not use any booze that is brown or dark, the mixture needs to be anise shade of golden yellow.  Mix it well and set aside.  In your last and hopefully the largest of the bowls, sift the 2 1/2  c. of flour.  Add the contents of bowl 2 (the one with the eggs) and then add the contents of the sauce pan slowly.  Mix well then add the yeast batter. Mix well.  Add more flour, bit by bit until it forms a soft and stick dough.  Turn it on to a floured board and kneed for 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth.   Place in an oiled bowl (I used the orange infused Bari olive oil to keep the flavor in the bread, a must in my book).  Let raise about an hour.  Punch down and form in to four balls and place in oiled cereal bowls (spray Pam also works fine for this).  Place back in the oven to let raise.  They should double in size which may take another hour or so.  Bake bread in preheated oven of 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before done (at 30 minutes), brush with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar.

Totally wonderful toasted.  This was a HUGE treat after midnight mass when I was a kid.  The smell is heavenly and this bread was a very competitive thing when I lived in 'Pedro.  Every female relative I knew (in the older generation) swore they made the BEST and they NEVER gave out their "secret" recipe.  My Mom tells me that mine is darn near perfect so I am passing it on.  May the tradition continue!

Dobro tek i sreta uskrs!!


  1. I've been browsing online for a good Easter bread recipe. It seemed like the same two recipes kept showing up on all the websites that I looked at. Then I found yours that was a 'Pedro" recipe, and knew that this was the recipe I'd been looking for. Authentic, made the way we do it here. I tried it today, and it was awesome. Delicious flavor! The only problem I had was getting the yeast foamy. Yeast and I have never gotten along, and today was no exception. Therefore, my bread was a little dense, but I'm going to keep working on it.
    BTW, my father was born in Hvar. We have some relatives up in Fresno. I believe they own a vineyard. They're last name is Jerkovich. Do you know them by any chance? My maiden name was Fistonich. I married an Ursic. I was born and raised in San Pedro, now living in Rancho Palos Verdes.
    Thanks again for sharing your recipe. You're right about the "staras" not wanting to give out their secrets.
    Mary Ursic

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  3. Well Mary....we may well be related. No joke! Here's the skinny: My Dad was born in Pedro and we ARE related to the Jerkovich family near Fresno (I have babysat for a few of them, danced on the bocce ball court of one of them and actually used to drink in the vineyard with some of them!). I am related to to the Jerkovich's in Pedro...HEAVENS!! I also think that my Barba Stipe (now deceased - Baka Marija's bro) was married to a Fistonich.... Small world.

    On the yeast: I have found that if you use the canned milk and it nice and warm (not hot) and you let it sit in a warm (not hot) oven for a nice long time, you get that foamy yeast going. Further, this doesn't work well when it is cold outside or cold in the house (damn...propuh!) Keep at it. When in doubt....add more rakija :-)

  4. Hi,

    I just what 1 1/2 cubes of butter is equivalent to (I'm from Australia so not familiar with this measurement)?


  5. Sorry about that....I sometimes forget that these "family" recipes have their own "personal touch" that doesn't translate. 1 and 1/2 cubes is equal to 3/4 of a cup of butter (6 oz or about 177ml). Hope this helps.