Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve and I’ve been baking like crazy for the past week. Some of the things I made are even national and I will tell you all about it in the next couple of days. If fact, for the next three days I’m calling this blog Desserts Eaten for Christmas Around the World.
I would like to begin this story of my Christmas baking with a dessert from my own country, which I naturally had to bake for the holidays. There are quite a few desserts from Slovenia that I enjoy baking and eating, but I think nothing can beat a homemade Walnut Roll (Potica) for Christmas.
Let me tell you my secret. Despite the fact that I’ve been baking since I was like 12 and there is practically no dessert that I wouldn’t be willing to make, I didn’t bake my own Walnut Roll until earlier this year. The reason is that, although I like it very much, I never ate it often or in large amounts. To me, it’s just a dessert I eat about twice a year (for Christmas and Easter) and even then eat very little of it.
So when I made it for the first time, I was surprised at how well it turned out. It was almost perfect and for the first time in my life I ate a lot of it and it wasn’t even a holiday. This time, when I was making it for our Christmas dinner (for about 12 people), it sadly didn’t turn out so well. How do I put this…there’s just too much filling. Right?
Now here’s the recipe. It’s really old and, as I’ve been told, this is the way our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used to make it. No, seriously, the recipe is from a book which is over 100 years old. It actually lacks a lot of instructions on how to make it, since this was apparently common knowledge to housewives at the time. This is also why I made some alternations when it comes to directions, to make it more clear, and substituted fresh yeast for dry.
Potica (Walnut Roll)
- 1 package of dry yeast
- 500g flour
- 250ml warm milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp soft butter
- ½ tsp salt
- 375 ml whole milk or cream (depends on whether you prefer a fuller taste or fewer calories)
- 750g ground walnuts
- 200g sugar (again, you can cut back, depending on your taste)
- 1 egg white, beaten
- raisins (optional)
Mix together flour and yeast. In a different bowl, beat the egg yolk with milk and sugar. Combine the two mixtures, add the butter and salt and start kneading. It is very important that you truly blend all of the ingredients together well, so knead really thoroughly, for about 10-15 minutes. Let it rise until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Boil the milk and pour it over the walnuts. Beat the egg white until stiff and add it to the walnut mixture, along with sugar and rum (if you choose so). The filling should be pretty thick; the kind a spoon stands upwards in. Let it sit for a while and you will see it thickens in time. If you still think it’s too runny, you can add some bread crumbs.
Cut the dough into two pieces and roll each of them about 1 cm thick. Spread the filling over both of them, sprinkle with raisins and roll two walnut rolls. Alternatively, you can also make just one really long one, but I prefer to make two, since they are easier to handle. Move them to a greased pan or use baking paper (I prefer this option) and bake until it is done. At least that’s what my recipe says. I can say that I baked at about 175°C for about 45-50 minutes. But I guess this depends on the kind of oven you use, so be sure you’re nearby when baking and keep checking on it.