Bread Club Zagreb to Represent Croatia in Its First Baking Olympics

Bread Club Zagreb to Represent Croatia in Its First Baking Olympics

January 20, 2023 - Bread Club co-owners Darko Kušić and Andrija Pernar will represent Croatia at an important baking competition this weekend in Rimini, Italy. They're going with traditional Croatian recipes, soparnik and čvarkuša.

As Jutarnji writes, along with masters of gelato and coffee, SIGEP, the World Dolce Expo, also hosts an international competition, a sort of Olympic Games of the baking world. Nine countries are participating this year, and one of them is none other than Croatia. The nation's representatives are a team from the super popular Zagreb bakery Bread Club - its co-owners Darko Kušić and Andrija Pernar.

"The whole thing works on the principle of invitations, and Croatia was invited to participate for the first time this year. All competitors must be members of the Richemont club; that's one of the conditions," Andrija Pernar told Jutarnji in a short phone conversation just before leaving for the competition.

The competition will be held over two days, and on the first day, the contestants only have an hour to prepare their dough. The next day, they have to finish the products in five categories in only eight hours.

"We will make ciabatta, one of the default categories, and it is made to exact weight, according to the Italian recipe. There is no compromise. Another category is freestyle bread, and we will make our porridge bread, a bread inspired by proja (corn meal), our white Grandfather's bread, and another bread with horsebean protein. In the tarts category, we will make two sweet varieties, inspired by the Croatian poppy seed roll and the Dubrovnik rožata, as well as two savory kinds, which we have made based on the traditional recipes of Viška pogača and Soparnik.

We will also make Margherita pizza, along with our version with cheese, sour cream, and kulen; while some of our other dishes include čvarkuša, a bread roll with Croatian bacon and cheese, Croatian kiflice and a sandwich with škripavac cheese and Nin šokol (dried cured pork neck). We decided to focus on tradition; we believe that to be the recipe for a good ranking," explained Darko Kušić.

They added that the grading system is quite strict and look at every detail. Each product must be precisely the specified weight. Precision is key, and any deviation is penalized with negative points.

For example, the team of bakers from China has been preparing for this for the last year, and they're sending three teams to Italy in case the first line-up is prevented from performing for some reason. This only goes to show how serious this competition is. By the way, the Chinese representatives also designed a replica of their kitchen just for this competition to make their work easier.

"Everything is done from scratch; we are not even allowed to bring a mature starter. We will knead the puff pastry dough on the first day and laminate it on the second. We must ensure we get it all done in eight hours, which is quite challenging. Given that we only recently opened our new production facilities, along with another branch, we have only been practicing for the competition for the last two months", commented Darko and Andrija and added that they believe their biggest competition is the Italian team. "We met them, and they are absolutely the masters of the craft," they added.

In the end, Jutarnji asked if they planned to keep any products from the competition in Bread Club's permanent offer.

"Extremely intense months are behind us, during which we prepared and tested new products with our team. All our products are made with filigree precision and with special love, so we are looking forward to putting everything we worked so hard on into production," they said. Good luck to Bread Club, and we're looking forward to tasting more of their world-class pastries soon!

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