This is probably the most traditional and well known Slovenian dish. It is a cake made from yeast dough with different fillings. It used to be (and still often is) a must for Christmas and Easter, when it is always made with walnut filling. However, it can be made with different fillings such as hazelnuts, poppy seeds, curd cheese (cottage cheese), tarragon, apples, even bacon… Below is a standard recipe for the dough I am using (they say that in Slovenia every housewife has its own recipe for potica dough), and filling that is my addition to Slovenian cuisine – curd cheese with lemon basil.
For the dough: 500 g white flour, 40 g fresh yeast (if you can’t get fresh yeast you can use dry yeast instead), 100 g butter, 80 g sugar, 3 egg yolks, about 250 cl milk, 1 packet of vanilla sugar, 2 or 3 spoons of dark rum, lemon peel, salt.
All ingredients have to be at room temperature. First mix about 100 cl milk with yeast, one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of flour and place for about 20 minutes to a warm place until yeast rise (if you are using dry yeast skip this step and just add yeast to all other ingredients). Mix everything together thoroughly, the dough has to be soft, but should not stick to your fingers and place the dough in a warm place. Leave it for a bout 1 hour or until it is twice the size it was when it started to rise. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Mix 300 – 400 g full fat curd cheese, 2 eggs, 250 g sugar, 1 packet of vanilla sugar and about 50 – 100 g bread crumbs. Chop the lemon basil leaves (you can use mint or tarragon leaves instead of lemon basil; it is better to use fresh leaves although I have used in the past dry tarragon and it works as well, it is just not as aromatic). When the dough had risen enough, roll it with the rolling pin on a flat surface to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thickness, spread the curd cheese filling (leave some empty space at all edges), sprinkle with lemon basil and roll it into a roll. Place it into a large baking dish and put it in a warm place again until it gets twice as big as it was when you put it in a dish. This second rising should be faster and is usually finished in about 20 – 30 minutes. Put potica in a prewarmed oven (180 – 200 oC) and bake for about 30 – 45 minutes or until it is nicely brown on the top (it should not get brown too quickly). Enjoy!