Baking Pitka Bread (Koledna Pitka) is a tradition in Bulgaria during the festive Christmas period. It is a pull-apart, tear and share type of bread and it’s a great treat for every special occasion. Every family has their own Pitka Bread recipe and way of shaping it.
The first time I’ve tried this cheesy and fluffy bread was a few years ago when my Bulgarian friend invited us for dinner. It wasn’t Christmas time but a special enough occasion for her to bake this bread for us. It was deliciously soft inside and crispy on the outside. I lost count on how many of them I’ve had that night but I made sure to take the recipe from her at the end of the dinner.Jump to Recipe
How to Make Pitka Bread?
My friend’s Pitka bread recipe is very simple and requires milk, eggs, flour, sugar and yeast for the dough, and butter and cheese for the filling. To achieve the best results, you need to follow few simple steps:
- Preparing the dough – Before starting the dough, bring the eggs and butter to room temperature. Warm the milk up gently in a pan then add the sugar and the yeast. Mix them well and wait for 10 minutes to get the yeast working its magic. Add the flour gradually until you get a soft and slightly sticky dough. Pitka dough doesn’t need much kneading. I usually knead it for few minutes and start shaping straight after.
- Shaping the Pitka Bread – There are many ways of shaping Pitka bread. I prefer shaping them very similar to cinnamon buns. This way of shaping keeps the inside of the buns soft and fluffy while the outside is still golden and crispy. To shape the buns, cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first ball into a rectangular shape, size of 45 cm x 25 cm. Spread half of the soft butter and sprinkle half of the cheese on the dough. Tightly roll the dough from long side to long side to turn into a log. Using a serrated knife, divide the log into 10 equal pieces. Repeat the same procedure for the other dough ball. Place the buns on a lightly oiled baking tray size of 30 cm x 21 cm. If you use a smaller tray, you will overload the tray and the buns in the middle will stay undercooked. When placing the buns on the baking tray, try to leave some space in between them. They will double the size up during the rising and cooking period.
- Letting rise the buns – Allow the buns to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature and the humidity of the room. I usually use a warmed up oven for rising the dough in cold weather. If you want to use the oven for rising, place the tray in the warm oven and leave them in for 45 mins or until doubles the size up.
- Cooking the Pitka Bread – When the buns double the size up, preheat the oven to 180°C (fan oven), egg wash, sprinkle some sesame seeds and nigella seeds on and cook them for about 35 -40 minutes or until they are golden brown.
I hope you enjoy the process of making this deliciously soft and fluffy Pitka Bread as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet olsun!
Pitka Bread (Koledna Pitka)
For the Dough
- 3 eggs (1 egg yolk kept for egg wash)
- 400 ml milk (lukewarm)
- 7 g fast action dried yeast (1 small pack)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 TSP sugar
- 720 g all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
For the Cheese Filling
- 150 g butter (soft enough for spreading)
- 100 g feta cheese (crumbled into small pieces)
- 100 g kashar cheese (grated)
For the Top
- 1 egg yolk
- Sesame seeds or Nigella seeds
- Gently heat the milk until warm then mix with the sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Leave for 10 mins to activate the yeast.
- Separate 1 egg yolk for the egg wash and add the egg white + 2 whole eggs into the mixture. Sift in the flour with the salt and mix all until you have a smooth dough. We are after a soft dough, slightly sticking to your hand. Add more water or more flour until you have the right consistency.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and shape them into balls.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first ball to a large rectangular shape using a rolling pin. (Approximately 45 cm x 25 cm).
- Spread half of the soft butter on the dough.
- Mix feta cheese and kashar cheese for filling and sprinkle half of it on the dough.
- Tightly roll the dough from long side to long side to turn into a log.
- Divide the log into 10 equal pieces with a serrated knife.
- Repeat the same procedure for the second ball dough and place the buns in a greased baking tray size of 30 cm x 21 cm. When placing the buns in the baking tray, try to leave some space in between them. They will double the size up during the rising and cooking period.
- Cover the tray with cling film or damp cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan oven).
- Egg wash the buns and sprinkle sesame seeds or nigella seeds.
- Cook for 35 to 40 mins or until golden brown.
Did you make this recipe?