How to prepare the most famous Slovenian dish – potica?
Potica is known as the most famous Slovenian dish. It also takes first place among traditional Slovenian festive pastries. Potica is made for every bigger holiday or festivity, especially during Easter or Christmas holidays. We could say that no Slovenian holiday is truly complete without a slice of traditional potica. Before we “get down to business” or better said to prepare potica, let’s take a look at what potica actually is.
What is potica?
Potica is a traditional Slovenian dish. Slovenians also refer to potica s the queen of Slovenian holiday dishes. It’s a rolled pastry made of leavened dough filled with any of a great variety of fillings. It’s not easy to make one. You need just enough filling and just enough dough. More than 80 various types of fillings are known.
The traditional Slovenian fillings for potica can be made with walnut, hazelnut, walnut with raisins, tarragon, poppy seed, or cottage cheese. You will, however, come across another filling as well. Among them is also chocolate.
Potica is a festive pastry and can be baked in two ways: in the oven or directly on the hearth. The potica baking mould (called potičnik), which has a conical protrusion in the middle, was inspired by the moulds for baking the ring-shaped Napfkuchen cakes popular in German-speaking countries.
Traditional Slovenian recipe for walnut potica
To make a traditional Slovenian potica you will need the following ingredients.
- 1 kg flour
- 30 g fresh yeast
- 3-4 egg yolks
- 300 ml of lukewarm milk
- 120 g butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- lard for greasing a baking dish
- 600-700 g walnuts
- 200 g honey
- 50 g sugar
- 100-200 ml milk
- 1 egg
- a dash of rum or homemade brandy
The dough must be prepared in a warm room. Mix the flour with a teaspoon of salt and mix the yeast with a teaspoon of sugar and two tablespoons of flour and 50 ml of lukewarm water or milk. Leave in a warm place to rise. Make a hole in the middle of the flour; add whisked eggs, yeast, melted butter and sugar into the hole. Add the lukewarm milk while stirring. Beat the dough for 15 minutes or until bubbles appear and the dough separates from the bowl. Sprinkle some flour on the beaten dough; cover the dough with a cotton cloth and leave in a warm place to rise. To prepare the filling, crush or grind the walnuts and pour some hot sweetened milk over them. Heat up the honey until it liquefies. Add the honey and cinnamon to the walnuts. Leave the filling to cool off. Add one or two eggs to the filling and mix thoroughly. Roll out the dough until it is ½ cm thick and spread the warm filling over it. Roll tightly and put it in a greased mould. Leave the potica to rise slowly. It will also rise during baking. Before baking, cover the potica with a whisked egg. Bake for an hour; when finished, leave it in the mould for 15 minutes to cool off. Sprinkle the potica with powdered sugar if desired. Dober tek!
Potica will perfectly accompany your Easter Day breakfast. Learn how to prepare a traditional Slovenian Easter Day breakfast, here.
The traditional Slovenian recipe for Tarragon potica
To make the Tarragon potica you will need:
Potičnik, 27 cm (10 inches) in diameter
- 400 g (3 cups or 14 oz) soft pastry flour
- 200 g (1 1/4 cups or 7 oz) strong bread flour
- 42 g (1.5 oz) fresh yeast
- 100 g (1/2 cup or 3.5 oz) sugar
- 5 g (0.2 oz) salt
- 1 tbsp rum
- 300 ml (1 ¼ cups or 10 fl oz) lukewarm milk
- 8 g (0.3 oz) vanilla sugar
- 50 g (1.8 oz) butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 lemon, zested
- 50 g (1.8 oz) butter
- 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 180 g (6.3 oz) sour cream
- 150 g (3/4 cup or 5.3 oz) sugar
- 8 g (0.3 oz) vanilla sugar
- 200 g (7 oz) fresh tarragon, leaves only, or 15 g (0.5 oz) dry tarragon
You will also need:
- Butter for buttering the baking mold/potičnik
- Strong bread flour to facilitate the dough rolling process
- Caster sugar and a thin wooden stick
Place the eggs and yeast at room temperature at least half an hour before baking. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl (I prefer plastic bowls with covers) to make for a lighter and airier texture. Mix gently to ensure both types of flour are well integrated. Don’t use a bowl that is cold to the touch, as it will interfere with the quality of your leavened dough.
Crush the yeast into a small bowl, add one teaspoon of sugar, 4 tablespoons of lukewarm milk and 1 tablespoon of sifted flour. Stir gently, cover the bowl with a dishcloth and allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, for 10-15 minutes. In cold weather, set the mixture in a warm place to expedite fermentation.
Egg Yolk Mixture
Beat the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar, rum, lemon zest and salt into a fluffy mixture before adding lukewarm milk to it.
Melt the butter and allow it to cool, so it’s not too hot when mixed with the flour.
Return to the bowl of sifted flour and form a well in the center, then pour in the yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to gradually fold the flour from the edges into the yeast mixture.
Now add the egg yolk mixture and stir again before adding the melted butter. Take 20 minutes to knead the ingredients until they form a soft, silky texture that doesn’t stick to your hands or the bowl. Add some strong bread flour if necessary. Then form a loaf, put it into a bowl and seal it with a cover or plastic wrap and allow it to rise to twice its original size—about an hour to an hour and a half. For best leavening results, keep the room temperature above 25°C/77°F.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Sauté the breadcrumbs in butter and wait until they cool. Add the egg yolk, sour cream, vanilla sugar and mix. Beat the egg white with one tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt until stiff and fold it carefully into the filling.
Before you coat the dough with the filling, prepare the work surface. Lay a large dishcloth over it and sprinkle evenly with strong bread flour.
Place the dough on the dishcloth and roll it out to form a square that is 1 finger width thick (1 cm/0.4 inches). Once rolled, the dough should measure 55×55 cm (21×21 inches) in size, which is a perfect fit for a 27 cm (10 inches) potičnik.
Spread the filling evenly to the edge of the rolled-out dough and sprinkle tarragon and sugar over it. Begin rolling up the dough from one side, gently pulling inwards on the emerging tube to ensure the flat dough ahead is taut.
Use fingers while rolling up the dough to squeeze out trapped air, in order to prevent air bubbles from forming during baking. Pinch in the side edges as you go, to avoid filling-free bites. Continue until the dough is rolled up.
Butter the potičnik and use a kitchen cloth to determine the length of the dough to match the circumference of the potičnik.
Feel free to cut away the edges as necessary, to ensure a proper fit. Place the dough in the potičnik. Use a thin wooden stick to poke holes through the dough to facilitate air expulsion, then cover it with a dishcloth and set it in a warm place for another one-hour leavening session. Preheat the convection oven to 180°C/350°F. Perforate the dough again, put it in the oven and bake for one hour.
If the crust turns yellow before the end of baking, cover the potica with baking paper, but if possible keep the oven closed the entire time. When baked (check by piercing the dough with a knife blade-it’s done when the blade is clean), take the mold out of the oven and immediately flip it over and put the potica to slide out. Allow it to cool, preferably on a wooden surface, then sprinkle caster sugar over it.
Source: Slovenska turistična organizacija and Cook Eat Slovenia book