A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a potica baking workshop hosted by the Slovenian Hall in San Francisco. I knew that potica was an important, sweet staple for Slovenians but little else. When I saw the invitation, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more and have the chance to taste this delicacy prepared by local experts. I’m glad I did!
Potica (pronounced po-teet-sa), which roughly means “to wrap in” in Slovene, is a traditional cake often served at holiday celebrations, especially Easter. Every family has its favorite recipe but it is usually a rolled bread filled with a walnut paste. It can be shaped as a log, baked in a loaf pan or in a Bundt pan.
It was a fun afternoon featuring 3 different variations on the treat. I chose one to share with you here and hope that you will give it a try, perhaps as a snack along side a Slovenian wine?
Recipe, courtesy of Blair Kilpatrick
1 c. plus 6 T. butter, melted and cooled
1 c. + 1 t. sugar
6 egg yolks
1-1/2 c. sour cream
2 packages dry yeast
3/4 c. warm milk
6 c. flour
1 t. salt
In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, egg yolks, and sour cream. Mix well.
In a small bowl, proof yeast in warm milk and sugar. Add yeast to the first mixture. Mix well.
Sift flour and salt. Add to the mixture in the large bowl and stir to combine. You should have a soft, sticky dough. Turn it out on a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into four even balls and flatten them slightly. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
2 pounds (about 6-1/2 cups) finely ground walnuts
1 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
dash of salt (optional)
1⁄2 cup melted butter
honey to taste, 1/2 to 1 cup
(Optional: dried cranberries or raisins)
It is easiest to use a floured cloth to roll out the dough. I like to cover the kitchen table with a tablecloth and then put a floured pillowcase in the center. The pillowcase provides a good guide for shaping and it can also be used to nudge the roll along.
Remove a ball of dough from refrigerator and place it on floured surface. Roll it into a rectangle. The dough should be thinner than pie crust but thicker than strudel or phyllo. I ended up with a 15 x 26 inch rectangle.
Spread the dough with 2 T. melted butter and a quarter of the nut/sugar mixture, which should be about 2 cups. Warm the honey in a saucepan of hot water to thin it slightly. Drizzle the dough with 2-4 T. of honey.
Roll up the dough, beginning from the short end. After every few turns, prick the dough with a fork to eliminate air bubbles. Pinch seam and ends closed and fold ends under. Place seam side down on baking sheet or rectangular pan that has been oiled or lined with parchment paper.
Repeat with remaining balls of dough, for a total of four loaves.
Let potica rise 1-1/4 hours. (Note: Loaves don’t rise much.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If necessary, bake for 10 minutes more at 325 degrees. Let cool before slicing. To store, wrap in aluminum foil. Potica tastes better the next day. It stores well. It also freezes well.