“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
Mark Kurlansky

Povitica ... A Croatian Sweet Walnut Bread I’m late on the Daring Bakers challenge once again, actually really late! I had no time to get to a Povitica {pronounced po-va-teet-sa}, a culinary creation that sounded like music to my ears! Inspiration came from two wonderful Daring Bakers, Renata & Finla, and I just had to make this delectable looking Croatian Walnut Sweet Yeasted Dough Bread yesterday!Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Povitica is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is traditionally served during the holiday season.  If there is one thing I regret almost not baking, it has to be this bread. I’m eternally glad I stopped by Renata and made a mental note that I must make some soon. Next morning I stopped by Finla, and wild horses couldn’t keep me away from the kitchen. It was time to ‘Po-va-teet-sa’!!! Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread

Povitica, or Croatian walnut bread, is a nostalgic favorite of many Eastern Europeans and their descendants. Also known as Orehnjača (walnut bread) and Makovnjača (poppy seed bread) in Croatia, Povitica is a favorite of many other neighboring cultures. Known also as Potica in Slovenia, Orechovnik in Slovakia and Štrudla in Serbian, recipes vary from region to region and family to family.
Povitica is rolled yeast bread, somewhat akin to strudel. It is typically served at special occasions, such as the holidays, birthdays and weddings. The versatility of this bread makes it perfect for morning coffee, or as a simple dessert. By some, the process of making povitica is revered as a dying art, made by long gone grandmas and aunts in the “old country.” It is said that a gift of povitica from one family to another is a symbol of respect, making it a perfect hostess gift.

Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread Family recipes, and the secrets on how to roll the bread so thin, were passed down through generations of families. I think Jennis choice for the Daring Bakers challenge is exemplary. Not only did she share a window on one of the most delicious yeasted dough breads we have ever had, she has helped preserve an art which is slowly dying… AND the recipe is one this talented lady put together too!Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread All plans for the day were rapidly put on the back burner, as we had bread to bake! Bubbling active yeast must be one of the most satisfying sights in the world. Once that works, I am largely assured that nothing can go wrong … so what if the kids have been home all week, so what if the dogs in her terrible doggie teens, so what if there are piles of laundry to be doneso what???Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread Making the dough and grinding the filling was a breeze all thanks to my trusted Thermomix. I had silky smooth, brioche like dough in minutes, and ground walnuts in seconds. Nothing like it!! Rolling and stretching was slightly nerve racking because I had the kids singing for lunch. I made the bread in fast forward mode, making mistakes along the way, but this beautiful bread is so forgiving {and delicious!}Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut BreadOnce fitted into the loaf tin somewhat poorly, I heard horrified screams from the kids. Rolled my eyes up at hub and he explained it looked like a plucked chicken stuffed into a loaf pan. Uh-oh … indeed pretty unappetizing and like a Halloween joke maybe? Into the oven, and it rose, beginning to take shape. Within the first 15 minutes, it was a beautiful sight! The house was filled with wonderful aromas of sweet bread baking.  It looked and smelt wonderful {no more plucked chicken look!}Povitica ... A Croation Sweet Walnut Bread This challenge was as satisfying and fun as the earlier  Phyllo to Baklava DB one! For all of you who have the spirit of ‘baking adventure in you‘, I would ask you to try your hand making Povitica some day, if not some day soon. It is one of the most beautiful and delicious sweet dough breads we have ever tasted. I plan to make a savoury version soon.

Thank you Jenni for an outstanding daring challenge; it was a beautiful one, very satisying. Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here to see the beautiful baklava our other daring bakers have rolled from scratch!

Povitica, Croatian Walnut Bread

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams

Povitica, Croatian Walnut Bread

Povitica is traditional Eastern European dessert bread served during the holiday season.This walnut version, a Croatian Walnut Bread, is rolled yeast bread made of sweet dough slathered generously with a delicious walnut/chocolate/vanilla filling. It's worth every bit of effort!


To activate the Yeast:

½ tsp sugar

¼ tsp all purpose flour

2 tbsp warm water

1½ tsp dry yeast


{I made this in the Thermomix}

½ Cup (120 ml) 2% milk

3 tbsp (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) sugar

¾ tsp salt

1 large egg

1/2 vanilla bean,scraped

1 tbsp (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) unsalted butter, melted

2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) all-purpose flour


1 egg white, beaten with fork

1½ tsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp melted butter

Filling Ingredients {for one loaf}

1¾ cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) walnuts, ground

¼ cup (60 ml) 2% milk

¼ Cup (60 ml/58 gm/½ stick/2 oz) unsalted butter

1 egg yolk, beaten with fork

½ vanilla bean, scraped

½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder


    To Activate Yeast:

    In a small bowl, stir sugar, flour, and the yeast into warm water and cover with plastic wrap.

    Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

    To Make the Dough:

    In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.{I just heated it to 'hot enough' in the microwave}

    In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, sugar, and the salt until combined.

    Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups of flour.

    Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl

    Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.

    Dough in Thermomix:

    Place all ingredients in bowl of TM. Process at Speed 6 for 6 seconds, and then knead for 2 minutes. Done!

    Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.{Mine tripled}

    To Make the Filling

    In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar and cocoa. {I whizzed the walnuts, cocoa, scraped vanilla bean and sugar in the Thermomix}

    Heat the milk and butter to boiling.

    Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.

    Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

    Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.

    If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk {This is important}

    To Roll and Assemble the Dough:

    Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.

    Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour {use flour sparingly}

    Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches in diameter

    Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of melted butter on top.{I forgot to do this}

    Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.

    As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.

    When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.

    Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered. {It should spread easily else the dough will tear. Mine did as the filling was initially a bit thick}

    Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll

    Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced

    Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar. {Original recipe uses strong coffee instead of egg white}

    Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.

    Preheat oven to moderate 180°C.

    Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

    Turn down the oven temperature to slow 150°C and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done. {Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.}

    Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.

    Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread is heavy about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.

    It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

    Changes I made:

    Used a scraped vanilla bean in both the dough and filling, increased the rising time, used more cocoa, didn't use cinnamon, used an egg white wash instead of coffee {and placed the dough in the loaf pan all wrong!}.


    There are several options for storing Povitica:

    • The Povitica will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature.

    • The Povitica will keep fresh for 2 weeks if refrigerated.

    • The Povitica can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped a layer of wax paper followed by a layer of aluminum foil. It is recommended to not freeze Povitica with cream cheese fillings as it doesn’t hold up to being thawed really well – it crumbles

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