Po-TEET-sa, po-TEET-sa is how it’s pronounced, just in case there’s still a question on that. I’m told that back in Slovenia if you can make potica you’re entitled to call yourself a cook. Assuming that’s true, then I’ve earned the right to sling hash in any all-night greasy spoon in Ljubljana. Adam and Eve on a raft — wreck ’em!
This isn’t bad for a first try. I’ve got a few surface defects but the interior looks good, and that’s the part that really matters with potica. Notice that I’ve got quite a few layers going here. I was able to stretch the dough quite thin, though a yeast dough is never going to get as thin as a very elastic strudel dough. So if many, many thin layers are what you’re after, head over to the strudel recipe and employ the dough you find there. Otherwise assemble the ingredients for potica and proceed as follows. Place the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle (beater). Stir that on low.
Now add the warm milk and keep stirring.
A shaggy dough will form. Switch to the dough hook.
Knead the dough for about two minutes on medium until the dough smooths out some. Then add the soft butter in a couple of additions.
The dough will get sloppy at first…
…but in 3-5 minutes it will come back together. You’ll have a clean bowl again. Done!
Let the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 90 minutes, covered with a towel or plastic wrap.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Grind the nuts in a food processor. You want them fine, but not ground down to butter.
About like crumbs. See here? Those are the cake crumbs on the left, the ground nuts on the right.
Now add the rest of the filling ingredients to the bowl.
And stir about a minute until everything is combined.
After 90 minutes or so your dough will be nice and puffy.
Throw a sheet over your dining room table to begin the shaping. Toss some flour around…
…and rub it in a little.
Apply the dough and get a pin ready.
A medium pin will work decently.
A big pin works even better.
Once the dough is about two feet by three feet you’ll need to start stretching. Just grab the edges and pull gently but steadily. The dough will slowly stretch out. Remember that this process need not be terribly fast. Pull on one side, then a corner, then the next side, going around and around.
If your find the dough is sliding across the table top you can have someone plant their big hands down on the opposite side.
Small hands work well too.
I got this dough stretched out to about two and a half by four feet. That seemed about the limit to me. Indeed I got a couple of small tears in the dough, which are no big deal.
You just moisten your fingers and pinch them back together.
Now then, apply the filling. This stuff is a little on the gummy side so you need to be patient with it as well.
Spread it thinly, being careful not to tear the dough sheet underneath.
I spread the filling a bit too far to the edge, which caused some leaking later, but live and learn, am I right? To get the most layers, roll the dough sheet up from the narrow end. Turn up the edge…
…and get the roll going.
Then, as with strudel, raise up the sheet underneath to get the roll rolling.
And there you are. A couple of little tears, but not a big deal.
Now then, regarding forms. Potica can be baked in any form you happen to have. You can even bake it free-form if you like (a loop is classic). Some people like to put two lengths — or a single folded stretch — into the same pan to get sort of a double bull’s eye effect. Here I decided a bundt pan might be fun — lubricated with cooking spray of course.
I painted on some egg wash, then let the roll proof about half an hour. Meanwhile I preheated the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
You want to bake these 45 minutes to one hour, until they’re nut brown. You can see some minor filling explosions there. Those might not have happened had I not rolled the dough so thin (or spread the filling to the very edge of the sheet) but as I mentioned earlier, it’s the inside of the potica that matters most.
My leftover stretch I baked up in a little loaf pan, greased with butter.
Once baked, loosen the sides gently with a butter knife, then turn your poticas out. You can see that potica takes up the shape of a mold quite nicely. You can see pan-facing side of this is a little ugly, just like the top. However it just occurred to me that you could apply a light icing of some sort to obscure any defects.
But what a pleasure it was to cut into. Success!
How does it taste? Like a little slice of sweet, nutty Slovenian heaven. My young ones started with a thin slice, tasted, thought about it, then asked for more. When half of that small loaf was gone I had to stop them. Dinner was coming up.