Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Recipe of the Week (March 23, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on March 23, 2015 at 1:50 PM

Pogaca (Istrian Country Bread)

        This week's recipe takes us to Istria, a part of Croatia that was once occupied by Italy. After World War II, Istria was given over to Yugoslavia, and many of the ethnic Italians living there fled to Italy. Today, there is still a strong Italian influence to Istrian cuisine, and many many Istrians speak both Croatian and Italian. Pogaca is a traditional bread popular throughout the Balkan regions, and particularly in Croatia. Unlike traditional Italian bread which is made with water, pogaca is made with milk, butter and sour cream, which lends a unique, rich flavor and soft texture. It is perfect for sandwhiches and dipping in sauces and soup.



All Purpose Flour (6 cups)

Eggs (2 extra-large)

Milk (1 cup)

Butter (½ stick -softened)

Sour Cream (1 cup)

Canola Oil (¼ cup)

Active Dry Yeast (1 package)

Sugar (2 tbs)

Salt (1 tsp)



Place the milk and sugar in a saucepan and heat it on a low burner to dissolve the sugar. Then, transfer the milk to a bowl and allow it to cool to about 100 to 110 degrees. Add the yeast and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or until frothy. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small sauce pan and allow it to cool. Beat together 1 egg and 1 yolk. Place the beaten egg, melted butter, sour cream, canola oil, and salt in a free standing mixer equipped with the whisk attachment. Beat the ingredients until fluffy. Next, add the yeast mixture and beat again. Add 3 cups of flour and continue beating. Then, switch to the dough hook attachment and work in the remaining 3 cups of flour. When the dough pulls together, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 3 minutes or until smooth and shiny.


Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly greased with canola oil and brush it lightly on the top with canola oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a dish towel or plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot to rise. When the dough has doubled (about 2 hours), punch it down, shape it into an oval loaf, and set it on a lightly greased baking sheet. Let the loaf sit for 40 minutes and then slash a diamond pattern across the top with a sharp knife. Slash it 3 times diagonally in one direction and 3 times in the other direction. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown. If you prefer a shiny crust, after 35 minutes of baking, brush the top lightly with water.

Categories: Appetizers, Snacks, Soups, and Salads

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1 Comment

Reply Rachelle
3:42 PM on May 15, 2015 
This is not a typical Italian bread, but does look like the bread my Italian grandfather made at his bakery. I will try this but do want to know if it is sour flavor from the sour cream? I imagine this may have the flavor of sour dough which if too strong, I do not like.

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Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

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Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

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