“One village, one potica.”
Potica, a typical Slovenian festive dish/cake, differs in size, shape, and in particular, filling. Best known is the potica with nut filling, followed in popularity by a number of others such as poppyseed, cottage cheese, hazelnut, chocolate, tarragon, leek, honey, or carob fillings.
The poticas made today, which are the most festive, have a relatively short history. They were developed more than 200 years ago from older shapes of “povitice” rolled-dough cakes containing a variety of fillings. In those days the cakes were not prepared in earthenware baking-dishes, but directly in ovens. Even today, potica remains the pride of each housewife.
Recipe for walnut potica (orehova potica)
1 large cake compressed yeast (2 oz.)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Dissolve yeast in milk; add sugar and combine. Cover and let rise in warm place, about 10 minutes.
1-1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 to 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
Scald milk; add butter. Cool to lukewarm. In small electric mixer bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla until lemon-colored. In large bowl, sift 3 cups flour. Pour mixtures of prepared yeast, milk, butter, eggs and sugar into mixing bowl with 3 cups of flour; beat with electric mixer until smooth and elastic. Then keep adding flour and mixing with a wooden spoon until of consistency that dough can be handled without sticking. Place on floured board and knead for about 15 minutes, adding flour as needed, to make a non-sticking dough. Place dough in well-greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place for about 2 hours until double in bulk.
Potica Walnut Filling:
2 pounds walnuts (ground fine)
1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
1-1/2 cups milk or half and half cream
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
Grated peel from 1 orange or 1 lemon
5 egg whites
Grind walnuts in food chopper with finest blade. Melt butter in large saucepan. Add milk, sugar and honey; cook to rolling boil, taking care not to let it boil over. Pour hot mixture over walnuts. Add vanilla and grated peel. Mix thoroughly and allow to cool. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the cooled nut mixture.
Rolling and Baking:
Grease well the four 12″ x 4″ or five 9″ x 5″ loaf pans. Roll out dough on table covered with cloth, sprinkled well with flour (this amount of dough can be rolled to about 50″ x 32″). Spread cooled filling evenly over entire dough, sprinkling generously with cinnamon. (If desired, raisins may be added at this point.)
Start rolling up dough by hand (jelly-roll fashion) from the wide side, stretching the dough slightly with each roll. Keep the side edges as even as possible. Prick roll about every several turns with a thin knitting needle or cake tester to help eliminate air pockets. Continue rolling by hand to opposite edge. With edge of flat plate, cut desired lengths. Seal ends more securely by gently pulling dough down to cover ends and tucking underneath when placing in pan. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about one hour. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour until medium brown. If a glossy top is desired, brush each loaf with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk 15 minutes before potica is done.
Four 12″ x 4″ loaves, or five 9″ x 5″ loaves.
Recipe reprinted from “Pots & Pans,” a cookbook published by the Slovene Women’s Union of America (SWU).