Grandma Howe's Povitica Recipe

This isn’t my usual computery blog post, but it might be the most technical. This is a seriously complicated bread to make.

When I was younger, my whole family would look forward to the holiday goodie bag from Grandma and Grandpa (but mostly Grandma I think). There would be a lot of cookies (including klotchkies - a Polish bar that I’m spelling wrong and I need the recipe for), some breads, and povitica! Povitica is a delicious nut bread from Croatia that my great-grandparents brought over a taste and recipe for. We would eye each other hungrily as Mom warmed up the bread in the oven and carefully distributed it as fairly as possible between the five of us. Then the negotiations would begin (x cookies for y povitica, etc.) and we would enjoy our delicious desserts. These days, Grandma works with my Aunt Dana to make povatica. I’m placing the recipe on my blog so I can keep an important part of my childhood, share it with friends, and hopefully make myself one day.

There are three spelling for “povitica” that I’ve found and Googled:

  • povitica: the Croatian name that I refer to in my notes (Grandma is Coration)
  • potica: Slovenian name
  • povatitza: the name I’ve only found in the printed recipe from my grandparents and how my family pronounces it

I’m trying to reproduce the recipe exactly as I’ve received it (modulo web formatting) below.

Comments will look like this: this is a comment by me

Povatitza (Croatian Nut Bread)

This treasure is offered by Helen Howe, and definitely worth your attention! It’s a lot work, and your kitchen must be very warm (about 85° F), so start early and plan to make a day of it!

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 ½ # Shelled English Walnuts (or pecans) almost positive this is cups
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¾ C Milk (or less - use enough to spread easily)
  • 1 ¼ C Sugar
  • 3 tbls Honey
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbls Butter

Grind nuts (using food processor), add salt. Combine butter, 3/4 cup sugar & honey with ¾ cup scalded milk.

Pour hot mixture over nuts. Mix well. Beat eggs thoroughly, add vanilla, and add to nut & milk mixture. Blend well.

Dough Ingredients

  • 2 Cakes compressed yeast
  • 1 pint Milk
  • 8 C Sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 C Vegetable shortening
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 tbls Butter

Heat milk to lukewarm. Crumple yeast in a bowl. Gradually add 1 c flour and 1 c milk to make a thin paste (called a “sponge”). Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Beat eggs well. Add 1 cup sugar. Melt 1 cup shortening.

After sponge has set for 30 minutes, add remaining flour (7 cups) & salt alternately with liquids (melted shortening, eggs and milk).

Mix well, adding extra flour only if needed to handle. Knead dough well, until smooth and elastic. (A power “dough hook” mixer is useful.)

Grease a large bowl. Add dough and cover with wax paper and a damp towel. Set aside in a warm place, away from drafts. Allow to rise until dough doubles in size.

Shaping the Dough

In a warm place away from drafts, punch down the dough and knead it again until dough leaves the hands cleanly.

Cover a large table (a card table works well) with a clean cloth and sprinkle with flour. (Separate dough if making smaller loaves.) Pull the dough gently with your hands. Brush top with melted butter. Continue pulling dough until it is wafer-thin and covers a large area.

Spot filling over dough with tablespoon maybe they meant "start"?. Spread evenly with flexible spatula.

Taking cloth by two corners, flip it gently to roll dough (as if making a jelly roll). Using serpentine pattern, place in a well greased 11x16” pan. Cover well but do not seal. Allow to rise to double in bulk.

For smaller loafs (for storage & shipping convenience), separate dough and use two 9x13” pans for four 9x9” pans (or round pans).

Baking

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Bake 11x16” pans for 1 hr 20 min. Bake round pans for 20-25 min. Bake 4x9” pans for 20 min maybe they meant 9x9". Test doneness with a wire tester. When well-browned, light in weight, and when tester comes out “clean,” the bread is done.