What is Potica?
Potica is a pastry made of yeast dough that is rolled out into a rectangle, spread with a walnut-brown sugar filling, and rolled up into a log shape. The log-shaped pastry is coiled from one end to the other to resemble a snail or a turban in shape.
When I received this recipe many years ago it was called Yugoslavian Christmas bread but Yugoslavia no longer exists. The break up of Yugoslavia occurred as a result of a series of political upheavals and conflicts during the early 1990’s. Yugoslavia was divided among ethnic lines. Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo are areas that once made up Yugoslavia.
Slovenian miners who settled in the upper Midwest of the United States introduced Potica to the American cuisine. So perhaps a more correct description for this wonderful pastry is Slovenian Christmas Bread. Potica (pronounced po-TEET-sa) is traditionally served at Christmas and Easter.
The Recipe for Potica
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 pkg. dry yeast (a scant tablespoon)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 cups walnuts, ground
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- In a large mixer bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast.
- Heat milk, sugar, butter and salt until warm, stirring constantly, until butter almost melts.
- Add milk mixture to dry ingredients in mixer bowl.
- Add 1 egg to mixture. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat for 3 minutes at high speed.
- Add remaining 2 cups of flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
- Turn out and knead 6 - 8 minutes. If your mixer has a dough hook let it knead the dough for 6 - 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn once and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Prepare Walnut Filling: Combine walnuts, egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, milk, melted butter and vanilla and set aside.
- Punch dough down, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Spread with filling, roll up from one long side to the other and pinch to seal.
- Place one end of roll in center of a large greased cookie sheet.
- Coil dough to make a spiral; seal end.
- Cover and let rise 30 - 45 minutes.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 - 35 minutes until golden brown.
- It's also traditional to make Potica with a poppy seed filling.
Some Recipe Tips
When rolling out the dough, make it as thin as you can. I roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick then stretch it out to fit the size of my bread board. Spread the filling over the dough.
Roll up the filled dough from one long side to the other long side to make a log. Then coil the dough around to form a spiral shape that resembles a snail or turban.
The original recipe didn’t call for icing but I mixed up some powdered sugar with a small amount of milk and vanilla and drizzled it over the Potica after baking it. It’s heavenly served warm with a nice cup of coffee or tea!
Try your hand at making Potica soon! Potica is a wonderful traditional pastry that’s great for breakfast or brunch for the holidays or any day of the year! What’s your traditional holiday bread or pastry?
Remember to Savor the Flavor!
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