Matt’s grandmother, Julie, was known for many things. And a beloved holiday favorite of the family is potica (po-tee-tsa). Potica is a traditional Slovenian nut roll that was often served at holiday or family gatherings.
I absolutely love when recipes have family ties. I am sure that most anyone can think of a certain dish that reminds them of a person or occasion in their family. For Matt, it’s potica. And potica is memories of grandma.
Making Potica is most definitely an all day event. From making, and hand-kneading, and rising the dough; to rolling, and filling, and rising again; to finally baking. You will also use nearly every dish and pan in your house. I wish that I had taken a picture of my counter at the point of rolling and filling, it would have been good for a laugh. It is most certainly a labor of love. But isn’t that what it should be?
This year I decided to play around with baking. Julie’s traditional way was to roll up the dough into loaves. In addition to making the traditional family loaves, I placed two loaves in a bread pan to get more of a “bread” look. We took some over to his grandfather and great uncle. They immediately began reminiscing and sharing memories of their version of potica being rolled, filled, and placed into a large circular pan, which was then baked into round loaves. I love that everybody has their own twist on an old favorite.
And don’t forget all of those end pieces you trim off. There shall be NO scraps. Not after all of your hard work! Put every one of those trimming in a greased pie pan and bake. Any extra filling? Pour that over the top, too. Honestly, I think this little pie dish of scraps is my favorite part!
Hmm…pardon the snacking.
Each Easter, I plan to use every dish and pan in my kitchen and to knead, fill, and roll in order for Julianna’s Slovenian roots and cherished family recipes to get passed along, so that perhaps she too will someday carry on their family tradition.
PS-Read the entire recipe before making. It’s good to know what to expect ahead of time!
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2-5/8 squares cake yeast (or 3 dry packages)
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 4 egg yolks (reserve whites for filling)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup half and half
- 6 1/2-7 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup half and half, heated
- 1 1/2 pounds ground walnuts (or pecans)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
- cinnamon for sprinkling
- egg whites for sealing and brushing
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over yeast. Add warm milk and let stand.
- In a dish, whisk together sour cream and egg yolks.
- In a small sauce pan, heat half and half and butter (until melted). Let cool slightly.
- In a large bowl place 6 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together and create a large well in the center.
- In the well, add egg/sour cream mixture, butter/half and half mixture, and yeast mixture.
- Using a wooden spoon, slowly bring dough together until all liquid is absorbed. Dough should be soft and just come together.
- Place dough on a floured board and knead about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Add small amounts of flour to hands, if necessary.
- Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let rise until double in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make filling.
- In a small sauce pan, heat butter in half and half until melted.
- Place ground nuts in to a larger dish. Pour hot mixture over ground nuts.
- Add sugar, honey, and vanilla. Mix until blended.
- Fold in egg whites.
- When dough has doubled, divide into four pieces. Roll out one piece of dough (thinly) into the shape of a large rectangle. Only use enough flour to keep dough from sticking. Generously sprinkle the entire rectangle with cinnamon.
- Spread about 1/4 of the walnut filling evenly over dough, covering the entire surface except about 1 inch at the end of the dough (that will be rolled last). If you use too much filling, it will be difficult and messy to roll. Filling should spread easily, if it's too thick, thin with milk.
- Start rolling dough with fingers, tightly at first. As you continue to roll, stretch dough slightly. Every few rolls, prick with a fork along the length of the rolled section, about every 2 inches.
- Once you get near the end, paint the unfilled end piece with egg whites in order to seal the roll.
- Trim ends, then pull over the top layer of the ends and pinch to create a seal. Save end pieces-see note.
- Prick the finished roll every two inches.
- Repeat with additional 3 pieces of dough.
- Place in/on desired baking pan. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk-about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Brush top of loaves with egg whites and sugar.
- Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. If loaves begin to brown, cover gently with foil.
- Let cool completely before slicing.
- Place all end pieces and scraps into a greased pie dish. Top with any extra filling. Bake with rolls.