Pink Swirled Bulgarian Pitka Butter Bread

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

This swirly Bulgarian Pitka or butter bread is as delicious as it is pretty. Made with a simple dough the signature pattern is created with dividing and rolling it all up to create the pretty floral pattern. Fill it with a pesto, herbs or a sweet spread or whatever takes your fancy. I made mine savoury with a beetroot pesto dip that gave it a rosey appearance.

Koledna pitka is usually served around Christmas or New Year's and assumes various appearances depending on how you position the dough. It is meant to be a pullapart bread that you tear and share for special occasions (often a coin is hidden inside it) and I had a special occasion in mind for it.

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

Late last year a lovely blogger friend Sammie from The Annoyed Thyroid (do check her out!) posted a story about volunteering at the Asylum Resource Centre in Newtown. Once a month she would take lunch there and any clients of the ASRC could socialise, have a meal, use their computers and see their case worker or a doctor. I've wanted to help out but I didn't know how and somehow this seemed the best way to do it by helping via food.

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

They were busy over the Christmas break so it wasn't until recently that we got the email. One Friday afternoon, Sammie and her friend Cathy and daughter and I arrived at the ASRC just near Newtown train station. I brought with me a cake and this Bulgarian pitka bread. The clients are a real mixture of backgrounds so I wasn't sure what they wanted to eat or what to expect. They were so polite and patient and were a pleasure to help. The food we made for them was vegetarian and halal and they seemed to like it. And during lunch OzHarvest delivered a tray of nectarines and peaches and they simply adored those and happily took bags of these home to their families at our urging.

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

When we were leaving we had a chat to the staff. They help over 1,200 people and resources are always a little tight. They explained that once a week clients can come and take home a bag of groceries. These are donations and the centre it is pretty much run on donations. The building was purchased for them by philanthropists, some well known like Dick and Liz Smith and others not as well known. And businesses and people donate the rest. I asked them what they can't get enough of and they said things like basmatic rice is the most popular food (so I now have an idea on what I'm going to make next month) and basic things like soaps and hand wash are the top things that they need.

So tell me Dear Reader, what is a charity you admire the work of or support and why?

If you would like to help, they are always looking for volunteers. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre is located at 43 Bedford St, Newtown (02) 9078 1900 and are open Monday to Friday from 9am-4pm. They need food supplies and toiletries (they do not need clothing).

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

Pink Swirled Bulgarian Butter Bread

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 40 minutes plus resting time

Baking time: 30 minutes

  • 500g/1.1lbs. bread flour
  • 100g/3.5ozs. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pesto (I used a beetroot pesto, recipe follows)
  • 30g/1oz butter, melted
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water

Step 1 - Mix the flour, butter, eggs, sugar and yeast in an electric mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Add the water and mix until you get a dough and knead until elastic - about 5 minutes using the machine or around 8 minutes by hand.

Step 2 - Place in a large bowl and cover with cling film. Place in a warm, draught free area to rise for 1 hour or so.

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

Step 3 - Grease a 20cm/8inch springform tin on the base and sides and preheat oven to 200C/400F. Punch down and knead in salt. Roll into a ball and cut into quarters. Then take one ball and cut that into quarters. Roll each quarter into a ball and roll into a circle. Brush each circle with butter and then spread with the pesto. Pile four quarters on top of each other. Repeat with the remaining three balls of dough cutting each into quarters.

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

Bulgarian Pitka Bread

Step 4 - You should have four piles of four circles spread with butter and pesto. Roll them into a log. Cut each log into four triangles. Place these in the tin - you can position some cut side up or whatever you like. Brush with egg yolk mixture. Bake for 25 minutes.

Bulgarian Pitka Bread
Four piles with four rounds spread with pesto. Then roll them up into a thick sausage shape

Bulgarian Pitka Bread
Cut each sausages into four triangles

Bulgarian Pitka Bread
Position the slices cut side up and down-alternate to form a pattern

Beetroot Pesto

  • 100g/3.5ozs toasted almonds*
  • 25g/1oz. toasted sesame seeds*
  • 150g/5ozs. roasted beetroot
  • 100g/3.5ozs. feta cheese, crumbled (plus a little of the oil from the jar)

*To toast nuts and seeds, place on a baking tray and roast ijn a 180C/350F oven. 5 minutes for sesame seeds and around 10 minutes for almonds.

Step 1 - Process all ingredients together until it becomes a spreadable paste or dip. Add oil if necessary.

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