Potica is a Slovenian light brioche roll made with sweet or savoury fillings, with walnut potica being perhaps the most well-known and loved.
It is considered one of Slovenia’s national dishes and certainly the most famous of baked goods. Traditionally this is eaten around Christmas or other festive occasions (Easter, weddings, family celebrations). The sweet version of potica is usually filled with walnuts, or poppy seeds, the savoury with tarragon and cheese or pork crackling.
It is called “potica” which is a derivative of the Slovenian word “poviti” (to wrap or roll up). A potica is traditionally cooked in a round ceramic bundt-style baking dish called a “potičnik”. There are apparently references to potica being made as early as the 16th century in Slovenian monasteries, and there is a Slovenian saying that if you can make potica, you can call yourself a good cook!
Of course, there are variations on delicious brioche nut and poppy seed rolls made across the Balkans. For example, in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia & Hercegovina it is called variously “povitica” or “orehnjača” or “orahnjača” if filled with walnuts, or “makovnjača” if filled with poppy seeds. They all have the same thing in common, they are all absolutely delicious, and as for the filling, anything goes. I adore walnuts, so my potica has walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice and zest. You can also add a little bit of cocoa powder or a splash of rum to your filling.
This works beautifully as breakfast, or an afternoon treat, or at any time of day!
- Potica Dough
400 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling
2 egg yolks
40 g sugar
40 g butter, plus extra for greasing the bundt tin
180 ml whole milk, lukewarm
1 tsp dry (fast-acting) yeast
2 g salt
- Potica Filling (Walnut)
200g ground walnuts
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of grated nutmeg
40 ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
- Prepare your dough. Melt the butter and cool. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 1 tbsp of the sugar and a little of the lukewarm milk until the yeast is dissolved, and set aside to reactivate the yeast (if this mixture forthed/bubbled, your yeast is active and good to use, if not use new yeast). Sift the flour into a large bowl, add your yeast, cooled melted butter, the egg yolks, sugar, and milk and combine everything together kneading in the bowl. Then add your salt, and knead (by hand or using an electric dough mixer) until you have a soft and elastic dough. If your dough is hard to work with/knead, add 1 or 2 tbsp more milk. It needs to be soft and pliable.
- Next you can either prove your dough overnight in the fridge (covered with cling film) or prove it at room temperature (covered with cling film or a damp cloth) until the dough has doubled in size (approximately 1 hour in a warm kitchen). Your dough will have proved sufficiently if it springs back slowly and leaves a small indent.
- While your dough is proving, prepare your filling. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks, adding the sugar little by little and adding 1-2 tbsp of the lemon juice. Be careful not to overbeat (the egg whites will be too stiff). In a separate bowl, mix the ground walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest, milk, and vanilla extract. Fold the walnut mixture into the egg whites, taking care not to knock the air out too much but making sure you incorporate evenly. If your mixture is too wet, add a little more ground walnuts. If it is too dry, add 1-2 tbsp milk. The consistency should be like buttercream.
- Prepare your bundt tin by greasing it well with butter. For the quantities in this recipe I use a 24cm round bundt tin.
Dust a clean surface with a little flour, and dust your rolling pin then roll out your dough in a large rectangle, as thinly as you can. I roll out the dough on baking paper dusted with a little flour (clipped to my work surface) as it is easier to then roll the potica once you have added your filling.
Spread the walnut filling over the dough evenly, leaving 2-3 cm gap on one length side of the rectangle. Start by rolling out the opposite length side with filling to the edge, and roll in a tight log taking care not to squeeze out the filling (this is the reason for leaving a gap on one side). Tuck in the edges to ensure no leakage from the side, ensure the seam of the roll is closed well, then place in your prepared, buttered bundt tin with the seam side up. Brush the top with more butter. Then leave to prove again in the baking tin until well risen, making sure you cover it with cling film or a damp cloth.
- Heat up your oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Once the potica has risen nicely following its second proving (it doesn’t necessarily have to double in size again, just fill out the bundt tin), bake for approximately 40-50 minutes until golden brown on top and it sounds hollow to the tap. Leave it to cool down before cutting into it.