Tuesday, March 22, 2016
There are as many recipes for Potica as there are bakers. Some are batter breads baked in a tube pan with filling layered layered between dough, some like this are stretched and rolled like s strudel. My swirl isn't perfect, but for a first attempt, I'm happy.
The recipe I used comes from Beatrice Ojakangas' Great Holiday Baking Book. Obviously, I improvised the filling as the original has walnuts, but I used her dough recipe which was easy to do, and handled beautifully. My one complaint with the recipes in the book is the favouring of "easy mix" method over the traditional proofing of yeast added to dry ingredients. I don't find that the yeast I use fully dissolves with that method. This may vary by brand, or the style of yeast where you live. At any rate, I decided to treat the dough the old fashioned way, and that's what I'll post here. Besides, if you don't bake often, how will you know your yeast is active if you don't proof it first?
The filling can be made a few days ahead. This will give you more than you need, but you'll find it makes a very nice filling for all sorts of biscuits, in particular Hamantaschen, which I will be posting a recipe for next.
For the poppy seed filling:
1 1/2 cups poppy seeds
1 cup raisins
Grated zest of a lemon
1/4 cup honey
Soak the poppy seeds in enough water to cover, and let stand 3-4 hours. In a separate bowl, soak in the raisins in the same manner.
After 3 hours, drain the raisins but not the poppy seeds. Mix in the zest and honey. Grind thoroughly in a food processor. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over low until thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated. You don't want it so thick that you get candy, so make sure there's still a bit of moisture in your filling-it will absorb on standing. Cool before using. I like to make this a day ahead and keep it chilled so it won't heat up the pastry.
For the dough:
2 3/4 teaspoons granulated dry yeast (not instant)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups plain flour
3 tablespoons instant dry milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine the yeast and water. Let proof until foamy-about 5 minutes. Beat in the butter, eggs, sugar, dry milk, and salt. Mix well. Beat in 2 cups of the flour, then slowly add the additional half cup of flour by hand. Mix well without kneading. Place in a covered buttered bowl and let rise until doubled-about 1 hour.
I treated this like strudel dough. I covered my table with a clean tablecloth that I floured generously. I used this surface to roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Then, getting my fists under the dough, I stretched gently using my knuckles until the dough was 20 inches wide, and 36 inches long. Apply filling (you won't need it all) to the dough leaving a 4 inch border without filling on all sides. Cut away any thick edges, and then fold the long way like an envelope over the filling with both edges meeting in the middle. Starting at the short end, roll the dough up. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled-about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 40!) or more. The pastry should be nicely browned, but if it is getting too dark, cover it with a piece of foil. I used a fork to pull the edge apart making sure it was baked through. The filling can be moist so if you have a lot of liquid running out onto the pan, bake it a bit longer just to make sure the dough won't be gummy. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.