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In Slovenia, the traditional dessert we cannot do without on holidays, especially on Christmas and Easter, is called potica (pronounced paw-'tee-tsa). It's basically a roll cake.
The most common is potica with walnut filling:
2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup warm water Sprinkle sugar over yeast and add warm water. Let it stand until twice its original volume.
5 cups flour (4 cups to start, adding additional flour as needed)
1-1/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum (or vanilla)
1 grated peel of lemon
Pinch of salt
Mix softened butter, sugar and egg yolks until the sugar is well dissolved and mixture is frothy. Set aside. Warm up the milk, mix in salt, lemon peel, and rum, and add to the butter mixture. Form the dough out of the 4 cups of flour, yeast, and milk mixtures. The trick is not to pour in all the milk mixture immediately; use about 3/4 to start with, then add more as the dough forms.
Beat with electric mixer until smooth and elastic. Then keep adding flour as needed, and mixing with a wooden spoon until of consistency that dough can be handled without sticking. Place dough on floured board and knead for about 15 minutes, adding flour as needed to make a non-sticking dough. Place dough in a well-greased bowl; turn dough upside down to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours until double in bulk. While dough is rising, prepare filling.
6 cups finely ground walnuts (approx. 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb.)
1 cup finely ground golden raisins
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup thick cream (or 1/2 and 1/2)
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
3 egg whites, beaten stiff
Mix walnuts and raisins, and grind them together to keep raisins from clumping. Combine all dry ingredients. Warm the cream and honey, and melt the butter in this mixture. Add cream mixture to dry ingredients and mix completely. Fold in beaten egg whites last. Let filling cool as you roll out dough.
Roll out dough on table covered with a tablecloth well sprinkled with flour. Roll out to 1/4" thick, 18" x 24" or bigger. Spread cooled filling over entire dough evenly. Start rolling up dough by hand, jelly roll fashion, stretching dough slightly with each roll. Start at an 18" edge and roll in the 24" direction. Keep side edges as even as possible. Continue to roll by raising the cloth edge slowly with both hands so the dough rolls itself. Dust away any excess flour on the outside of the dough with a pastry brush as you roll. Prick roll with a toothpick as needed to eliminate air pockets.
With the edge of a spatula (pancake flipper) cut off each end of roll to make it the length needed to fit around the inside of an angel food cake pan. Place in well-greased angel food cake pan or Bundt cake pan, being sure to arrange the seam where the roll ended against the centre. If you have a two-piece angel food cake pan, it is easiest to roll the loaf onto and around the bottom plate of the pan, and then lower this into the body of the pan. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in volume. Bake about 1 hour at 325 degrees.
Put cut-off ends in greased loaf pans, cover with cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in volume, then bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 325 degrees.
For a shiny crust, brush top before baking with 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk, OR brush top with melted butter when taken from oven.
Let stand one hour before removing from pan. Loosen sides and bottom with knife. Turn onto wire rack to remove, then turn over again onto another wire rack to cool right-side up.
Once completely cool, turn upside-down on a cake plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
The recipe found here (with pictures and another version), because I did not feel like translating my own, but it is basically the same.
Instead of walnut filling you can also make potica with hazelnuts or poppy seeds or even a chocolate one with coconut filling.
My favourite and also very common is potica with tarragon filling:
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons rum
2 handfuls of finely chopped tarragon (or to taste)
3 egg whites
Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar and rum. fold in beaten egg whites and chopped tarragon.
The dough and the rest of the procedure are the same as above.
Photo found here: five kinds of potica, from top left: walnuts, poppy seeds, hazelnuts, tarragon, raisins.
Making potica requires quite a lot of work but the result is worth it. Good luck if you decide to give it a try and enjoy!
What dessert is traditional for Christmas where you live?