Breads, Cakes and Custards
Ostaria Istriana


Pinza - photographed by © Marisa Ciceran - Easter 2010

Pinza
(Easter Bread)

This sweet bread plays an integral part of Easter and Christmas traditions in Istria as well as Dalmatia, including a variation that incorporates a hard-boiled egg (with shell) - known as titola and pupa (Istro-Venetian and Istro-Slavic), colomba (Italian), and jajarica (Croatian) - pictured below. The Christmas variation, however, is usually transformed into a walnut roll or a combination of walnuts and hazelnuts, and perhaps almonds. See Orehnjača (Oresgnaza) - Potiča (Potiza).

The ingredients and techniques for making pinza can vary from cook to cook. This bread can also be made with an electric bread machine, but the old-fashioned ways described below are well worth the extra effort. 

Pinze pasquali

A Pasqua, dai forni, esce un profumo stuzzicante che riempe le case e le strade. Sono i profumi della festa. In Istria si sornanon pinze e pignole, o titole: una treccia costruita attorno ad un uovo sodo. Sono dolci che si confezionano per la gioia dei bambini... e non solo loro!

Una volta era tradizione che le ragazze, al proprio fidanzato, regalassero i "buzolai": delle ciambelle fatte con "fioreto, zucaro, ovi e aquavita de casa". E c'è ancora un detto che recita: "Bezi, basi e buzolai, no i xe boni se no i xe assai".

Colombe / titole photographed by © Mario Demetlica - Easter 2004

See also:

Tips:

1. Yeast - While powdered (dry) yeast is widely available, this is the option of last resort for the purist. The first choice for pinza is beer yeast which is usually found at a bakery that will sell fresh yeast in small quantity to you. The more viable alternative is to look for the fresh yeast that comes in 2-oz. packages in the refrigerator section of supermarkets, but which is not widely available except during the holiday seasons.

Whichever form of yeast you choose, make sure that it is fresh. Fresh yeast has a distinctive taste and must not have any spots, scarring or discoloration that would indicate that it is dead or infected by another mold. If packaged (dry or fresh) make sure that the expiration date is well into the future.

2. Raisins - a purist will not substitute dark raisins for sultana (white) ones in this recipe. Raisins are usually plump and moist, but even when they are not dry, the recipe calls for them to be soak at least a few minutes in lukewarm water or rum.

3. Citris fruit - if a recipe calls for grated peel, do not grate the peel of any citrus fruit until you are ready to use it, for the shavings will quickly dry out and be rendered useless. Also, do not scrape off anything but the thin outer layer of skin.

Articles:

Recipes:

Pinza e titola

Preparazione del lievito: di buon mattino si impastano 2-3 manciate di farina con lo deca (100 g) di lievito sciolto nel latte tiepido. La pasta, avvolta in un tovagliolo infarinato, si copre con uno scialle di lana e si tiene al caldo per tutto il giorno, perché si gonfi.

Impasto delle pinze: le pinze si impastano di sera. Si incomincia setacciando la farina sul panarol, si mettono a scaldare a bagnomaria in un tegame i tuorli insieme con gli altri ingredienti ed un pizzico di sale, mescolando in continuazione per sciogliere il burro e lo zucchero. Si aggiunge la farina, quindi si incorpora il lievito continuando a lavorare a lungo l'insieme per ottenere una pasta liscia e bella. Si lascia lievitare al caldo per tutta la notte.

Si formano i pani delle pinze: secondo giorno, al mattino presto si trova la pasta ben lievitata, ma la si lavora ancora un po' e quindi la si taglia in tante parti quante saranno le pinze e titole che si vogliono ricavare. Per le pinze si formano dei pani (paneti) tondi e per le titole (colombe) delle trecce, calcolando bene il posto dove inserire l'uovo colorato. Si copre ancora tutto, tenendo al caldo per proseguire la lievitazione.

Al forno: si scalda bene il forno. Prima di infornarli, sui pani delle pinze si praticano con le forbici tre tagli, dal fondo al vertice, ottenendo tre triangoli; si spennellano con un tuorlo sbattuto e, finalmente, si infornano, adagiati sopra un foglio di carta unto col burro. Man mano che si cuociono, i tre tagli si allargano e, dopo circa un'ora, le pinze vengono sfornate, profumate, lucide e belle come tante rose.

Un po' di superstizione accompagnava, una volta, l'ultima fase: guai a chi avesse detto, mentre le pinze nel forno si alzavano, prendendo colore: Che ben che le se alza. Il fornaio o chi per lui l'avrebbe subito apostrofato: Tasi, fiol d'un can: ti volaria che no le se alzi più! Ma la sfuriata valeva anche per la cottura di altri dolci.

Con l'albume rimasto, si confezionava il pane con l'uva passa (zibibbo). Si impastava il pane normale, aggiungendo nella farina un manciata di uva passa, un po' di zuc­chero, olio ed i bianchi de ovo sbatui a neve. Prima di infornarlo, come per le pinze, si praticavano con le forbici tre tagli, dal fondo al vertice e si ungeva col rosso de 'l ovo sbatù.

Source:

  • Giuseppe Radole, Folclore istriano, MGS Press (Trieste, 1997), p. 109-114.

Etty's pinze lussignane

Ingredients:

  •  pkgs. dry yeast (3 scant tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cube butter (4 oz.), melted
  • ¼ cup oil (4 oz.)
  • 6 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks
  • juice of 1 orange
  • rind of 1 orange
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • flavorings – 2-3 teaspoons each (vanilla, almond, rum, anise, rose water, orange blossom water – any or all)
  • 10 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water, add 2 t sugar and set aside.

With the mixer, beat well sugar, butter and oil. Add eggs, one at the time, and beat well. Mix in yeast, salt, orange juice, lemon and orange rinds, flavorings. Add the flour, a little at a time. When too heavy for the mixer to handle, turn the dough unto a board and continue adding flour and kneed, for 5-10 minutes. Use most of the flour. The amount will depend on the juiciness of the orange and the size of the eggs. When the dough is smooth, put it in a very large bowl, sprayed with Pam or oiled. Cover with film paper and a towel and set in a draft less place until double in bulk. It might take 2-3 hours for the first rising.

Punch the dough down and let it rise again. Repeat. Shape into 3 round loaves and put them on oiled or sprayed baking pans, or cookie sheets. Let rise until double.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Brush the loaves with a beaten egg yolk and a little water added. Cut a deep three-pointed star with scissors or knife.

Bake at 300 degrees for ½ hour. Then at 250 degrees for another ½ hour to 45 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the light-colored part comes out clean). Remove from oven and wrap in a towel.

Source:

Nina's pinza fiumana

   
Starter dough (sponge / leavening):
  • 4 oz.  fresh yeast (see note below)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm milk, or a bit more
  • 4 tbsp. unbleached flour

Glazing:

  • 1 tsp. olive oil or butter (to coat baking pan)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar melted in equal amount of hot water (for glazing pinza); non-sweet alternative: egg-white
Main dough:
  • 8 cups unbleached white flour
  • 6 egg yolks, room temperature (add a touch of salt and paprika to the leftover egg whites and fry them to make mild-tasting scrambled eggs!)
  • 1 orange peel, freshly grated
  • 1 lemon peel, freshly grated
  • 8 oz. sweet butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (a bit less may be better to help the yeast rise)
  • 1-1/2 cup sultana (white) raisins and soak them in dark rum (1/2 cup or a bit more)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla (optional)
  • 1 fistful salt, or to personal taste
  • 4 tbsp. milk (or more, as needed)

An hour or two in advance, take the butter and eggs out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature.

Starter dough. With a wooden spoon, blend all the leavening ingredients together in a small bowl until they form a smooth and slightly watery paste. Cover and let stand for about 20-30 minutes in a warm non-drafty area until you see bubbles have formed on the surface of the paste.

Main dough. Separate the egg yolks, and beat for a few seconds with a fork until they are homogeneous. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture becomes a smooth paste, then set aside.

Sqeeze the raisins and save the rum for later inclusion into the pinza dough. Put two cups of flour aside and put the remaining six cups in a large mixing bowl. Add the softened butter, raisins, egg yolk and the starter dough, and blend thoroughly in the bowl with a wooden spoon until the ingredients start to form a mass, then switch to continue rolling the mass in the bowl with your hands. Grate the orange and lemon peels directly into the mixture and continue blending until they are incorporated, then add the rum at the end while the dough is still in the bowl. [Note: I once forgot to soften the butter ahead of time and softened it in the microwave, almost melting it; the dough seemed to like it and rose much faster than usual - a coincidence?]

Move the dough to a wood kneading board and knead at a steady rhythm, rolling and turning the ingedients into eanch other, slowly adding the remaining flour when the dough begins to get sticky, alternating with small amounts of warm milk. Continue kneading for about 15 minutes or until the dough is very smooth and moist, but no longer sticking to the wood board. Shape the dough into a slightly flattened ball and place it  in a shallow pan, cover with a clean cloth and place in a warm and draft-free place (a slightly warm oven works well). Let the dough rise to double its original size. This could take from 1/2 hour in the best of circumstances and up to two hours in the worst conditions.

Grease the bottom and sides of the baking pan with the olive oil (or butter) and set aside. Remove the dough from the rising pan return it to the kneading board. Punch all the air out of it, and knead it for a few minutes, then cut into two equal-sized pieces and shape each piece into a round or oblong loaf. Place the two loaves next to each other in the baking pan, leaving a few inches of space between them, and cover again with the cloth.  Allow the dough to rise a second time to about double its original size. This could take 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the ambient conditions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  Bake the loaves for 45-60 minutes (less time if they are well risen, more time if they are flatter), depending on oven conditions, until the crust has turned a light golden color. 

Prepare the glazing (do this beforehand). Combine the glazing ingredients and mix thoroughly to remove any unmelted lumps. When the loaves have turned a light golden yellow, use a pastry brush to coat the pinzas generously with the prepared glazing. Bake for a few more minutes more until the glaze has been absorbed into the crust and is just starting to darken to a light brown. Remove the pinza loaves from the oven and allow them to cool a few minutes before attempting to cut your first slice. Otherwise, you will burn your tongue as I generally did as a gluttonous child! 

Yield:  2 large loaves

Variation

PUPA, COLOMBA or TITOLA - pinza shaped into a braid (as creative as the baker wishes) and nesting a colored or white hard-boiled egg.

Sources

Pinza di Muggia

Ingredienti:

  • 1 kg farina
  • g 200 zucchero
  • g 150 burro
  • 1 bicchiere, olio
  • 5 tuorli d'uovo
  • 50 g lievito
  • 30 g sale
  • aromi (rhum, buccia d'arancio e di limone)

I tuorli vanno mescolati bene con lo zucchero; il lievito va sciolto e lasciato montare in poco latte con un po'di zucchero e farina; si mescolano poi tutti gli ingredienti con la rimanente farina e si lavora il tutto molto bene. Si fa una prima levatura con tutto l'impasto, poi si formano dei pani per una seconda levatura.

Quando sono da infornare si pennella la superficie con uovo sbattuto, si praticano tre tagli partendo dal centro verso l'estenio e si inforna come si fa con il pane.

Source:

  • Muggia OnLine - cucina - http://www.muggiaonline.it/cucina.htm

Pinze

Ingredienti:

  • 1 kg di farina
  • 30 gr di lievito di birra
  • 3 uova
  • 2 tuorli
  • 7 dl di latte
  • 100 gr di uva passa
  • 200 gr di zucchero
  • 80 gr di burro
  • 0,5 di di latte
  • 1 bustina di vaniglia
  • la scorza grattugiata di un limone
  • sale
Sciogliete il lievito con un poco di latte tiepido ed un cucchiaino di zucchero e ponetelo a lievitare al caldo. Aggiungetelo alla farina insieme agli altri ingredienti e preparate un impasto morbido. Lasciatelo lievitare in un luogo caldo.

Quando avrà raggiunto il doppio della sua consistenza, lavorate la pasta ancora una volta: ricavatene tre pagnotte rotonde e mettetele a lievitare in uno stampo da forno per una ventina di minuti.

Prima di mettere le pinze in forno, intagliate una croce sulla superficie e passate la pasta con l'uovo sbattuto.

Infornate, per una mezz'ora circa, a 180°.

(Con la stessa pasta si possono preparare anche le «treccine», che in Istria vengono dette «pignole», «titole» o «colombine»).

Sources:

  • Rosanna T. Giuricin & Stefano de Franceschi, Mangiamoci L'Istria, MGS Press (Trieste, 1996) and
  • Franko Lukež & Branko Lovrić, Cucina Istriana, Petko (Pula, 1994).

Dalmatian pinca

pinza.jpg (438927 bytes)Pinca is a traditional Dalmatian Easter cake. It symbolizes the end of Lent in that it contains many eggs.

Together with Easter eggs, pinca has remained the centrepiece of the family Easter breakfast. In urban areas it is increasingly the only item taken to Easter Mass for blessing.

Ingredients:
  • 1 kg. (2 lh.) flour
  • 2 sachets dried yeast granules (DI-GO@)
  • 200 g. (7 oz.) butter
  • 200 g. (7 oz.) sugar
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 400 mi. (16 fl. oz.) milk
  • tot of rum
  • tot of grape brandy
  • pinch of salt
  • grated lemon and orange peel
  • 1 egg
  • coarsely crushed sugar for sprinkling

Mix the flour and yeast granules evenly. Add the butter (softened to room temperature) to the flour and knead together. Make a depression in the dough and pour in the sugar, grated lemon and orange peel, rum, brandy

and a pincli of salt, gradually adding a little warmed milk. Knead to a firm dough, working it until a firm, smooth consistency is achieved (it should be firmer than normal yeast dough). Set aside in a warm pIace to prove until it doubles in size. Knead again and divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, shaping each piece into a ball (pinca). PIace each ball on greased paper and allow to prove once more. Once they have risen well, make three deep, equidistant cuts in the top (beginning in the centre, downwards).

Coat with a beaten egg and sprinkle with coarsely crushed sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 200°C (as Mark 6).

Source:

  • Croatian Cuisine, the Modern Way. Golden Marketing (Zagreb, 1995)

Jajarica - Treccina pasquale (Colomba)

Ingredienti:

  • come per pinza # 2
  • 4 uova

Lavorare la pasta come nella ricetta precedente (vedi Pinza # 2, sopra), ividerla poi in quattro parti. Da ogni parte togliere un quarto di pasta e il rimanente lavorarlo a forma di fuso (il centro più grosso e le estremità più sottili). Piegare in modo che le punte siano vicine una all'altra e, nella parte più grossa del fuso, comprimere un uovo fresco lavato. Arrotolare sulla spianatoia il quarto di pasta separato precedentemente e, mettendolo tra le punte del fuso nel quale si trova l'uovo, fare una treccia. Lucidare con l'uovo sbattuto e arrostire nel forno.

La treccina "jajarica" è un dolce caratteristico che si usa preparare per Pasqua.

Source:

  • Franko Lukež & Branko Lovrić, Cucina Istriana, Petko (Pula, 1994)

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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran

Created: Wednesday, January 20, 1999. Last Updated: Monday, December 31, 2012
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