When Easter time rolls around in our family, my grandfather goes in to ingredient-hunting mode. For as long as I can remember, Good Friday means piling into my grandparents’ kitchen for a full day of baking (and tasting of course) with the focus being on my grandfather’s annual Easter time specialty – a recipe from his Slovenian roots – Potica. It’s tradition, and I look forward to it every year.
Sourcing the best walnuts and honey, fresh tarragon, eggs and raisins in the week leading up to the day, it’s generally all hands on deck with everyone pitching in. My grandmother clears the kitchen the night before, my grandfather rises at the crack of dawn to lovingly prepare the dough and fillings and Mama and I arrive just in time to help with the rolling and assembly (we also bake our own treats after the Potica is safely in the oven). Having said that, my grandfather deserves every bit of praise when his Potica re-emerges from the oven – golden brown on top and smelling heavenly.
Last year after Easter, I provided a Potica recipe from the web and some photos from the day…this year, I’m sharing my grandfather’s beloved Tarragon Potica recipe (my favourite of all his variations) exactly the way he makes it – straight from the pages of his Slovenian cookbook, or as he calls it “my bible”.
- 500g plain white flour
- 4-5 sachets of dry yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Spoonful of rum
- 60g white sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 100g butter
- 250ml milk
- 150g butter
- 150g white sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- Chopped fresh tarragon (and lots of it)
- 125g (or a small tub) of sour cream
- 3 egg whites beaten
*Before you begin firstly ensure all of your ingredients are at room temperature/warm, as this will affect the rising process with the yeast.
- Sift flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the sifted flour into a smaller mixing bowl and add a spoonful of white sugar and a 50ml of warm milk (use the microwave for 10-15 seconds only as it should not be hot). Mix together and set aside to rise for 30mins – keep warm with a tea towel.
- Once visibly risen after the 30mins, add the yeast mixture to a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients (the rest of the flour, sugar and milk, 1 tsp. salt, lemon zest, rum, 100g butter and 3 egg yolks. Mix using a mixer with dough hooks attached.
- Remove from the mixer once the dough comes clean away from the sides (if you’re hand kneading it will take around 10 minutes of vigorous work).
- Put the ball of dough onto a tray and cover with a tea towel, placing it somewhere warm to rise until it’s doubled in size.
- Melt the150g of butter and beat with 150g white sugar and 3 egg yolks.
- Add the tub (approx. 125g) of sour cream and stir vigorously to combine.
- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the mixture gently. “You want the snow, you know?”
- Chop your fresh tarragon (don’t be worried about too much…use the whole packet/bunch if you have it) and set aside
- Take the risen dough from its tray and place on a large wooden board covered in flour.
- Roll the dough with a rolling pin as thin as you can into a large rectangle shape. Spread your filling over the dough and sprinkle liberally with tarragon.
- Fold the sides of the dough in to prevent the filling from oozing out. Roll it all up and “wish you good luck!” Start from one end and roll into a scroll to the other. Try to allow for as little filling to ooze out as possible (but with this version of Potica, the more mixture the better). Place in a large oven roasting pan/dish (my grandpa usually makes 4, so you can put 2 to a pan).
- Set-aside covered with a tea towel in a warm place for another hour to allow for the yeast to re-rise after it’s been rolled out.
- Once the scrolls have visibly risen, preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced, 180°C for non). Melt some butter in the microwave and brush it over the top to ensure a golden finish.
- Place the Potica in the oven and do not touch it or open the oven for at least 45mins (if you test it too early it will collapse). After 45mins test your Potica with a skewer. If it comes out clean, “Bob’s your uncle”, if not leave it for up to 15 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven, allow it to cool and then slice to enjoy!!
Do you have Easter time traditions in your family?