Potica – festive cake

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Potica has always been a dish of a ceremonial and festive character. People ate potica on the special occasions of their lives and calendar cycles. It was a must at Christmas and Easter. It was a desert at weddings and major chores. The walnut potica, a typical Slovene festive cake, is still one of the finest examples of home baking. In the area of Slovenia, different kinds of poticas of different sizes and shapes are known. The varieties baked in the Cerkno region are walnut potica, savory onion potica, ocvirkovca (savory potica with pork cracklings), zeljševka (savory potica with chive filling), tarragon potica, and chive potica. One of the oldest kinds baked was the potica with a filling from dried fruit and honey. Potica with a walnut filling was often an unachievable ideal in the past. Walnut potica was often substituted by marbledbread, which was known as ajdova budle in the Cerkno region. This bread, which had dough of different colors (wheat, buckwheat, and corn) to mimic the image of a festive potica, is known only to old people today.

Potica was first mentioned as povitica in 1575. In 17th-century Carniola it was rolled like a snail, filled with walnuts and honey, a rural, urban and nobleman’s Christmas dish. For all other festive occasions it had a cheese filling at the time (štrukelj).

– Slovenski etnološki leksikon (Slovene Ethnological Lexicon) –

Walnut potica by Štefka Kejžar

The recipe for walnut potica was shared with us by Štefka Kejžar from Gorenji Novaki, who has been baking bread, poticas and biscuits for nine years now. She presents her wares every Saturday at the farmers’ market in Idrija and at the market in Logatec. She learned all the baking tricks from her own experience and never attended any special courses. Štefka Kejžar also shared some useful tips with us, which are to be followed when baking potica:

  1. When preparing yeast, make sure it does not come in contact with fat or salt, since both ingredients stop the yeasts from developing and rising.
  2. To protect the dough from a breeze or moving air, cover it with a cloth.
  3. All the ingredients necessary for the dough should be put in a warm place first in order to warm up.
  4. Warmth, enough air, moisture, and sugar are necessary for yeasts to develop.

❤︎ Ingredients ❤︎

Dough:

  • 1 kg flour
  • 2 blocks of fresh yeast
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 milk
  • 160 g margarine
  • 160 g sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • rum
  • vanilla sugar
  • lemon peel

Filling:

  • 1,25 kg ground walnuts
  • milk if necessary
  • 400 g sugar (or to taste)
  • cinnamon
  • lemon peel
  • rum
  • vanilla sugar
  • beaten egg whites

❤︎ Ingredients ❤︎

Procedure

Knead a smooth dough out of all the ingredients and let it rise for about an hour. In the meantime prepare the filling. Blanch the walnuts and half of the sugar with boiling milk and then add the other half of the sugar. Mix in all the aromas and the egg whites beaten until white and fluffy and make sure that the filling has completely cooled before spreading it on the dough. After one hour, when the dough has risen to twice the size it had in the beginning, roll it out and spread it with the filling evenly. Then roll the potica up and put it into the baking pan (Bundt pan). Let it rise for an hour again and then bake your potica at 175 °C for an hour.