Poteca

SWISS YEAST CAKE

A delicious sweet bread filled with a cream, Poteca (poh-tay-kah) may be served sliced and spread with butter.

TWO 1-POUND LOAVES | oz. fresh yeast

4 oz. plus

2 teaspoon sugar

3 teaspoons lukewarm water

8 fl. oz. milk

4 oz. plus

2 teaspoons butter

12 lb. flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

FILLING

3 egg whites

4 oz. castor sugar

6 oz. walnuts, very finely chopped grated rind of 1 small orange grated rind of 1 lemon

TOPPING

2 TO 3 tablespoons clear honey, warmed

12 walnut halves

6 glace cherries, halved

2 angelica strips, cut into small pieces

Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mash in the ½ teaspoon of sugar with a kitchen fork. Add the water and cream the water and yeast together. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 to 20 minutes or until the yeast mixture is puffed up and frothy.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Place it over moderately high heat and scald the milk (bring to just under boiling point). Reduce the heat to low and add the 4 ounces of butter. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and allow the milk and butter mixture to cool to lukewarm.

Sift the flour, remaining sugar and salt into a warmed, large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture, milk and butter mixture and the egg yolks.

Using your fingers or a spatula, gradually draw the flour into the liquid. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board or marble slab and knead it for 10 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be clastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.

Cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth and set it in a warm, draught-free place. Leave it for 1 to 12 hours or until the dough has risen and doubled.

Meanwhile, using the 2 teaspoons of butter, grease two baking sheets.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or rotary beater until they form soft peaks. Using a metal spoon, carefully fold in the sugar, a little at a time. Beat the mixture until it is stiff and glossy. Fold in the walnuts and the orange and lemon rinds. Set aside.

Turn the risen dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2 pieces. Roll each piece of dough out to form a large, long rectangle. With a palette knife or spatula, spread half the filling on each piece of dough. With one of the long ends towards you, roll up each piece of dough Swiss roll style. Carefully transfer the rolls to the prepared baking sheets, seam side down. Pull the ends of each loaf round to meet each other and make a circle. Wet the ends with a little water and press them together to seal, overlapping slightly.

Return the baking sheets to a warm place for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to hot 425°F (Gas Mark 7, 220°C).

Pots de Creme au Luxe is a creamy brandy and coffee-flavoured dessert.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to moderate 350 °F (Gas Mark 4,180°C) and continue baking for a further 40 minutes. After removing the bread from the oven, tip the loaves off and rap the undersides with your knuckles. If the bread sounds hollow, like a drum, it is cooked. If it does not sound hollow, return the loaves, upside-down, to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the loaves on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Using a pastry brush, brush with the honey. Decorate with the walnut halves, cherries and angelica.

Serve warm or cold.

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