I’ve dedicated several blog posts on the Southern recipes from The Husband’s side of the family. I thought it was about time I wrote about my own family food heritage. My father’s grandparents both hail from the former Czechoslovakia. They both immigrated to the United States sometime in the late 1800’s and settled outside of Chicago.
If you know anything about Slavic cooking, you know it is very heavy, dense food – a lot of meat, cabbage, and beer. One of our family recipes is The Dumpling. Yes, the dumpling. Singular. It’s a big blob of dough filled with beef, tied in a cheesecloth and boiled for several hours. It comes out looking like a big white pumpkin and tastes about as appetizing as it sounds. I’d better not speak any more on The Dumpling, lest my Dad get upset. He gets very defensive where our family recipe is concerned.
On the other hand, Slavs are also known for their delicious pastries. Potica, also called nut roll, is a traditional pastry made out of sweet yeast bread and filled with a variety of fillings – most commonly sugar and walnuts – but also poppy seeds, dates, cinnamon, or raisins. It is usually served around Christmas and Easter.
Potica (Slovenian Nut Roll)
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water (110° to 115°)
- ¾ cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup shortening
- 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 4 cups ground or finely chopped walnuts
- 1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, sugar, salt, eggs, and shortening. Add 1 ½ cups of flour and mix until smooth. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. Continue to mix, adding flour as needed, until dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the bowl. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Alternately, continue to mix using the dough hook adding additional flour as needed.
- In the meantime, mix together filling ingredients in a large bowl.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. Punch dough down. Divide in half. Place on a floured surface and roll each piece out into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Spread half of the nut mixture over each rectangle, to within one inch of the edge. Starting from the long edge, roll dough tightly into a long spiral. Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls until golden brown, about 25-35 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
- In a small saucepan, heat icing ingredients over medium low heat. Stir frequently until smooth. Brush rolls with icing. Allow to cool.