Pinca, also called sirnica, is a traditional Croatian Easter sweet bread.
By Tamara Novacoviç
Pinca is a rich yeast dough, made with a lot of butter (sometimes lard) and eggs, flavored with citrus zest, candied and/or dried fruit, rum or rosewater. It is shaped into a round loaf that is cut with kitchen scissors and brushed with egg wash before baking. In the past, pinca was the pride of almost every household, each had their own family recipe. It was traditionally made on the Saturday and baked on Easter morning.
For a long time I was avoiding making this sweet bread. It was just never made in our family. Then I tried several recipes and wasn’t impressed, to say the least. It was ok while it was still hot, but when cooled, it turned into a dry loaf of bread. Nothing special, nothing that would interest me. So after a few recipes, I forgot about it. However, this year I had to prepare some traditional Easter recipes and finally gave in and gave pinca another try. I was determined to make it work this time. And so it did. It worked wonderfully. I got soft, light and foamy dough that remained soft and not even a bit dry after 2-3 days (I wrapped the remainings in plastic wrap). It had a wonderful flavor – this time I used both candied fruit and raisins. Pinca is great with some butter and a cup of coffee or tea.
This rich dough is made for special occasions and is not something you can make in a hurry. Pinca takes a lot of time and there are several things to consider when making it, as it will result in beautifully soft and foamy dough. This dough rises 3 times, it is crucial to give it enough time to rest and rise. If it rises properly, you will need to bake it for 30-35 minutes. Longer baking often results in dry dough. Also, I like to make the dough on the soft side and then later work a bit more flour into it. Make sure the ingredients are at room temperature. I used 1 part butter and 1 part lard in my dough. Lard makes it especially soft and pliable. If you don’t like it, you can substitute it entirely with butter. It is good to add fat to the dough after the first rising, because sometimes fat inhibits the rising.
Originally Published: April 4, 2012