What is Povitica?
Povitica, or Croatian walnut bread, is a nostalgic favorite of many Eastern Europeans and their descendants. Also known as Orehnjača (walnut bread) and Makovnjača (poppy seed bread) in Croatia, Povitica is a favorite of many other neighboring cultures. Known also as Potica in Slovenia, Orechovnik in Slovakia and Štrudla in Serbian, recipes vary from region to region and family to family.
Povitica is rolled yeast bread, somewhat akin to strudel. It is typically served at special occasions, such as the holidays, birthdays and weddings. The versatility of this bread makes it perfect for morning coffee, or as a simple dessert. By some, the process of making povitica is revered as a dying art, made by long gone grandmas and aunts in the “old country.” In the United States, many immigrants have brought their family recipes for povitica and have passed them down, preserving the tradition. It is said that a gift of povitica from one family to another is a symbol of respect, making it a perfect hostess gift.
The sweetened dough is rolled out very thin and flat, and then is slathered with filling. While walnut is the most traditional of the fillings used to make povitica, other choices of fillings include hazelnuts, chocolate, poppyseed, strawberry jam, apples, cherry, pumpkin and cream cheese. After the filling is spread over the dough, it is rolled tightly, into a simple roll and baked, or placed into a loaf pan for a more uniform loaf.
The end result presents beautifully — the rolled dough and filling create a swirled slice when cut. Unlike some coffee cakes and strudels that many Americans are familiar with, povitica is not especially sweet — it doesn’t contain as much sugar as some other cake-like breads. Though best eaten hot from the oven, povitica will keep for several months when frozen.
Recipes for povitica abound on the Internet, and there are Croatian cookbooks devoted to the bread. For those who yearn for a loaf of povitica, several online shops sell a little piece of the old country, shipped fresh from the oven.
Here is one version of povitica, that just might be one of the originals. I just had a taste of it, it is so delicious.
Ingredients are, ricotta cheese, but ideally it should be made from the milk of sheep rather than cow's milk,but I am sure regular ricotta, or farmers cheese should be good too, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla sugar, eggs, lemon rind, a little lemon juice is OK too, raisins are optional. Farmers cheese might need a bit more sugar tho.
In a bowl mix the cheese to a creamy consistency, if the cheese is too dry add a bit of milk. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and add sugar so it has time to be dissolved. Yet in a third bowl beat the egg whites until they form peaks.
To the cheese, add the flour and all the other ingredients with egg whites being last.
Pour into buttered and floured baking pan and bake at about 180 C, or 350 F, for about 45 min. Keep an eye and adjust temperature if needed.
The recipe I tried had 2 pounds (about 1 kilogram) of cheese with 2 eggs, 1 vanilla sugar, lemon rind from 1 small lemon, about 8 ounces of flour and the same amount of sugar, or roughly 1/4 of flour and sugar in comparison to the cheese.
I have a recipe from my Croatian grandmother. It uses ground walnuts and lots of lard, eggs, butter, raisins, and honey. No spices. Dietary disaster these days, but divinely delicious. In the 1970s I watched her make it and wrote down what she did. She didn't have a "recipe." We make it for very special occasions, but especially for 12th night and birthdays. We will have it this week.
I still make Povitica with cottage cheese. it is still my dads favorite. Unfortunately I do not have access to sheep's milk, so I have to use full curd from the store. As far as the person who was asking for recipes, talk to 10 different Croatians and you will get 10 different recipes. My recipe was from my Grandmother who actually was born in Austria which later became Czech after WW2. I make and sell it professionally. Mine is unlike many. Mine is a very *sweet* bread unlike Strawberry Hill. Good Luck
Where could I find recipes for Povitica? I am interested in as many variations as possible. I have found some recipes for the walnut filling.
In some parts of Croatia, povitica specifically means a dessert made with skuta (cottage cheese made from sheep's milk). It was made during spring time, but the tradition seems to be dying out.
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