Orehova potica (Walnut Roll) is the queen of the traditional slovenian cakes, prepared with light brioche dough and filled with a tasty walnut filling. It’s typical of the area of Kras/Carso – the area between Trst/Trieste and Gorica/Gorizia in northeastern Italy, but it’s also considered a national treasure in Slovenia. It’s traditionally eaten on holidays, like Easter, Christmas and other celebrations. Easter just can’t be Easter without potica, but it’s also delicious on every other occasion. There are more than 80 known recipes: this one is taken from the must-have recipe book of the slovenian minority in Italy – Je več dnevou ku klobas (There are more days than sausages) by Vesna Guštin Grilanc.
- 500 g plain flour
- 35 g yeast
- 3 eggs (1 egg and 2 egg yolks)
- 200 ml lukewarm milk
- 60 g butter
- 60 g sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1 grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon of rum
- 500 g ground walnuts
- 150 g raisins
- 75 g butter
- 100 g sugar
- 200 ml milk
- 50 g pine nuts
- 1 egg
Put a pinch of sugar and yeast into the lukewarm milk. Set aside for 10 minutes for the yeast to grow. Let the butter melt with a spoon of milk.
In a large bowl combine flour, a pinch of salt, grated lemon zest, vanilla, 1 egg and 2 egg yolks. Knead for a minute, then add yeast mixture, melted butter, sugar and 1 teaspoon of rum. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand (or use an electric mixer) and knead until the dough is nice, soft and elastic. Add some milk or flour if needed. Cover with a towel or cling film and set aside at room temperature for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Put the raisins in a bowl to soak in rum. Boil the milk, then in a large bowl mix it to the ground walnuts. Add the raisins and the pine nuts, and if you want add some vanilla and a spoon of rum as well.
When the leavened dough is ready, roll out the dough. At the end it has to be 0.5 cm thick.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites to get stiff peaks, then add the egg yolk and sugar. Spread it over the dough, then spread over also an even layer of the walnut filling (if there is too much, remove some). Sprinkle with sugar and butter, sliced into strips. Tightly roll up into a tight log. Transfer the potica roll to the pan (cover it with baking paper) so that the seam is looking upward. Make sure that the ends of the log are tightly pressed together or the potica won’t be as pretty and the filling will spread out while baking.
Cover the potica with a towel or cling film and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45 – 55 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 150 °C. Using a brush, gently brush the potica with a beaten egg. Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the potica all the way through to prevent air bubbles from forming and separating the filling from the dough. Transfer the potica to the preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes: 15 min at 150 °C, then raise the heat to 180-200 °C. When potica gets a nice color, lower the heat to 150 °C and continue to bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the nut roll is puffed and golden brown. Leave the potica to cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar and serve. Enjoy!