This week has been a rough one emotionally. Thank God for the outlet he’s given me through cooking. In the kitchen I can focus my mind and channel my emotions into something positive by creating and sharing. I’m blessed to come from a multi-ethnic background with a Mexican mother, Polish father and Greek stepfather, just to name a few of my culinary influences. Yesterday I went into the kitchen with my dad who showed me how to make his mother’s Potica. My grandmother passed before I was born, but it’s neat to think I still carry on her heritage.
Now what is potica? [Pronounced petite-za, like pizza.] It goes by many names depending on the country, but it’s a thin yeast dough, usually spread with a nut filling, then rolled up and baked. The version we made yesterday was Poppy Seed-Walnut and in our house we like to call it “coffee cake” since it’s a slightly Americanized version of potica and tastes great with a cup of Joe!
Being an American girl, my grandma used convenient Py-O-My coffee cake mix for the dough. It’s very hard to find now and the original dough recipe has been lost to the ages. We’ve been using a substitute that, while good, could still use some tweaking. The important part is that your dough is soft so it can be rolled very thin. We ended up mixing the dough by hand, but if you want to use a stand mixer you can do so with the paddle attachment.
Dad likes to grind his nuts the old-fashioned way because he says crushing the nuts squeezes the oils out and gives better flavor, but you can do this in a food processor or by putting them in a ziploc bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.
The dough gets rolled very thin and then spread with the filling. The recipe below will make 2 rolls. If you want to be very precise, the dough for each cake should weigh 14oz and there will be some dough left over (still working on the baker’s formula).
The rolls will proof, bake and then glazed while still warm. Even with the icing the cake is not very sweet.
Poppy Seed-Walnut Potica
Ingredients for dough:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast, or 1 packet
- 1 cup milk, warmed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Ingredients for filling:
- 2 cups of walnut halves or pieces
- 1 can of poppy seed filling
- 1/2 cup milk
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
Ingredients for glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the milk and yeast in large bowl. When it begins to foam, add remaining ingredients except for the flour, mixing until thoroughly combined. Add the flour in increments, adjusting as needed to create a sticky dough. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and proof until doubled in size, about 1- 1 1/2 hours.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Grind or finely chop the walnuts. Mix all ingredients together.
Grease 2 pie pans. On a floured work surface, punch down dough and roll out in an oblong shape until very thin, but not translucent, about 16×16 inches. Spread dough with filling, roll up and place in pie pans creating a circle shape by pinching ends together. Cover and proof about 30-40 minutes. Rolls should rise, but not be doubled in size.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, longer if using a tin pie pan, less for glass. Combine all the ingredients for glaze, mixing until smooth. Allow potica to cool just slightly before icing.
Yield: 2 potica