Walnuts are a staple in Croatian cakes. These rolls are often served at Christmas time, but also for other holidays and special occasions. People in Croatia share a great love for this cake and it can be made in several different ways.
This sweet bread goes by many names: povitica, potica and in Croatia orahnjaca. The secret of their great flavour is in the filling, which is made with walnuts, rum and sometimes raisins. The dough is often flavoured with lemon or orange zest. Unlike cinnamon buns, which ooze fluffy bready goodness as much as anything else, the Croatian roll is all about showing off the filling, framed by delicate layers of bread. And it’s worth the effort. The real deal is dough made with yeast and left to rise in a warm place. However, other versions with crisp pastry also often find their way onto Croatian tables.
For the dough
- 1 oz (30 g) fresh yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ¼ cup (30 g) all purpose flour
- ⅕ cup (50 ml) warm milk
- 3½ cups (350 g) all purpose flour
- a pinch of salt
- ¼ cup (50 g) butter
- ⅛ cup (30 g) sugar
- zest of ½ lemon
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 1 egg for the egg wash
For the filling
- 3½ cups cups (350 g) ground walnuts
- 3 tbsp rum
- ⅔ cup (150 g) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups (100 g) raisins
- 1 tbsp honey
- 8 cups (200 ml) milk
- zest of ½ lemon
- ½ tsp cinnamon
First, crumble fresh yeast into warm milk with sugar and flour. Let rise for 15 minutes, covered with a clean kitchen towel, until frothy.
In a separate bowl combine flour with salt, melted butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add yolks and 1 whole egg, sour cream and the yeast mixture. Knead until a soft dough forms. Let rise in an oiled bowl, covered with clean kitchen towel in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
In the meantime, make the filling: combine ground walnuts with sugar and vanilla sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and hones. Combine raisins with rum and let stand for 15 minutes. Add raisins with rum to the previous mixture. Add boiling milk and combine everything. Let cool until you roll out the dough.
Punch down the risen dough. Divide into two equal parts. Roll out each part onto a floured surface into a rectangle (that fits the size of your baking pan) approximately 35 x 30 cm. Spread the filling, leaving 1/2- inch (1 cm) border uncovered. Starting at the longer side, roll up, pinching edges.
Place rolls seam side down in a greased baking pan. Let rise again, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 200° Celsius.
Brush rolls with whisked egg and bake for about 40 minutes.
Let cool completely before slicing. You can dust it with powdered sugar before serving.