National dishes are one of the main objects defining a culture. Throughout history, people cooked what they could in some definite environment. This includes a region, a mentality, a way of living of those people. The best national dish has been transmitted from generation to generation.
In general, potica is a traditional pastry of Slovenia. It is made in the shape of a roll. Therefore it got a second name, as “nut roll.” It is made from thin paper dough and rolled with different fillings, the most popular of which are walnuts.
Potica is a festive dish. Moreover, it is a dessert. The name of it is traditionally Slovenia and is distinctive from povitica, povtica, potvitsa. The dish dates back to the 15th century. However, the Slovenian name potica became popular only in the 19th century.
As a usual pastry, potica is made from dough, but you need to have the leavened paper-thin dough for this one. The fillings for this product vary a lot. It can be sweet as well as salty, but the most popular filling is walnuts. That is why the second name of the pastry.
The most “true” Slovenian fillings are walnut, tarragon, quark, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, and poppy seed. The salted ones can be different, most usual with cracklings or bacon.
Potica is a really festive dish. Thus it is done in the special round shaped baking mold (ceramic, glass, or tin one), called potičnik, with a hole in the center.
Potica is much to be served during Easter and Christmas. Aside from Slovenia, it is popular in Austrian Carinthia, Italian Province of Trieste, and in some of the regions of the United States of America brought there with former Slovenian emigrants.
Potica is a really national dish. The proof of this can be the fact that it appears in the very first book ever published in the Slovenia language. Primož Trubar, a Lutheran priest, published it in the 16th century. After that, the dish was mentioned by Janez Vajkard Valvazor, a Slovenian historian, the author of the famed The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, in the 17th century. Furthermore, the original recipe was published in the book of Valentin Vodnik, a Slovenian poet, the author of the first Slovenian recipe book, in 1799.
The culmination of works dedicated to potica goes to Dr. Janez Bogataj, a famous Slovenian ethnologist, who wrote the first book entirely dedicated to potica (Poticas of Slovenia, 2013).
Of course, there are different kinds of preparing this dish, however, before starting any of those. Keep in mind that cooking potica can take half of a day or even an entire one. The dough is large, and it rises several times. It should be rolled, so prepare some big space for cooking. Also, do it gently because the thin dough is likely to break.
Here there are several recipes so that you can choose the most appropriate one in your opinion:
Ingredients for leavened dough:
- 1 kg plain flour
- 30 g yeast
- 3-4 yolks
- 3 liters of lukewarm milk
- 120 g butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- fat for the mold
- 600-700 g walnuts
- 200 g honey
- 50 g sugar
- 1-2 deciliter milk
- 1 egg
- grounded cinnamon
- rum or homemade fruit spirit
Prepare the dough in a warm room. Heat up the flour, sift it into a bowl and stir it together with a teaspoon of salt. Stir dissolved yeast together with a tablespoon of sugar, 2 spoons of flour, and ½ liter of milk. Leave it in a warm place to rise.
Make a hole in the middle of the flour, add whisked eggs, yeast, lukewarm melted butter, and sugar, adding lukewarm milk while stirring. Beat the dough for 15 minutes or until the bubbles appear, and the dough separates from the bowl. Certain types of flour may need more milk than others.
Sprinkle some flour on the beaten dough, cover the dough with a cotton cloth and leave it in a warm place to rise. Crush or grind the walnuts and pour some hot sweetened milk over the walnuts. Slowly heat up the honey until it liquefies, and then add it to the walnuts, add cinnamon.
Leave the filling to cool down. Add one or two eggs to the almost cold filing and mix them thoroughly. Roll out the dough until it is ½ cm thick, spread it with the warm filling. Roll tightly, put it in a well-greased mold.
The potica should be left to rise slowly, but not too much because it will rise during the baking. Put the whisked egg on the potica before the baking. Bake time is one hour. When baked, leave it in the mold to cool down for at least 15 minutes and then softly turn it over to the board. Sprinkle it with icing sugar, if desired.
- 100 g butter
- 50 g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 800 g flour
- 2 cakes yeast
- 200 ml milk lukewarm
- the rind of 1 lemon grated
Crumble the yeast in the bowl, add the lukewarm milk and 100 g of flour, and set aside to rise in a warm place. Cream the butter, add sugar and lemon rind, eggs and stir well. Then add the rest of the flour and yeast mixture alternately. Mix well, adding more flour only if needed to knead, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Set aside in a warm place to double its bulk.
Take it out, put on a floured board, knead it, and form into two loaves, then put it aside and let rise again for half an hour. Roll out, but not too thin (use a clean cotton tablecloth, washed with no fabric softener, lightly floured), spread with nut mixture and roll up, then put in a well-greased pan and let rise till double in bulk (use a small saucer to cut dough into desired sizes). (After rising final time, brush all exposed surfaces with an egg wash). Bake in a moderate oven – 160 degrees until thoroughly baked about 1 hour.
- 1 lemon rind
- 2 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 eggs well beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 200 g of sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 150 ml milk or more
Scald milk and butter together. Pour over the rest of the ingredients. Last, add beaten eggs (make sure to temper eggs before adding to mixture).
- 100 ml of milk
- 50 g butter
- 50 g sugar plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 50 g warm water
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 5 cups flour, or more as needed
- Walnut filling:
- 50 g butter
- 50 g plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 100 g each: honey, sugar, milk
- 800 g finely ground walnuts
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 100 g whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. For the dough, heat milk almost to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour into a large bowl. Add the butter, 50 g of the sugar, and salt. Set aside to cool. Stir yeast into warm water in a small bowl; stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar until dissolved. Set aside until foamy.
2. Add yeast mixture to milk mixture. Beat in eggs with a mixer. Beat in flour, 100 g at a time, just until dough can be handled without sticking. Knead dough on a floured board until very smooth, about 20 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl; cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, for filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the honey, sugar, and milk; raise heat to medium-high. Heat to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, mix walnuts, eggs, cream, and lemon juice in a medium bowl; pour the butter-honey mixture over the walnut mixture. Mix well.
4. Spread a large cloth or clean sheet on a table; sprinkle with flour. Spread dough on cloth. Roll the dough out; pull with hands from the center to the outer edge of the table until the dough is very thin, similar to strudel dough. The dough should be at least 3 feet square. Cut off any thick edges. Divide the dough into four 18-inch squares. Spread the walnut filling over each square. Starting at one edge, roll up the dough tightly, as for a jelly roll. Cut each roll into 2 pieces. Pinch the dough together at the ends. Place seam-side down on 2 large greased baking sheets. Cover with a cloth; let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes. Uncover.
5. Heat oven to 160 degrees. Bake until nicely browned, about 1 hour. Cool; cut into slices. (Loaves will last quite a long time if tightly wrapped. They also can be frozen.)
Potica for Everyone
In general, if you would like to try potica, it’s better to taste it in Slovenia among the other Slovenian on some traditional folk festivals. In this case, only you will feel the “true” Slovenian feeling.