How to Make Classic Croatian Potica (Stuffed Sweet Bread)

woman kneading dough
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  • Total: 75 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 3 loaves of Povitica

This Eastern European sweet yeast bread recipe stuffed with a cocoa-cinnamon-pecan filling is known as povitica in Slovenian and potica in Croatian.

Many people refer to povitica / potica as nut roll, but this is an over-generalization because all manner of fillings are used. This dough requires three rises, so plan ahead when preparing this recipe.


  • For the Sweet Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large room-temperature eggs
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packages Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 7 1/2 to 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 heaping cup sugar
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) margarine
  • 1 1/2 pounds pecans (ground very fine, like sawdust)
  • 4 large room-temperature eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Steps to Make It

To Make the Sweet Dough: 

  1. Combine lukewarm milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, eggs and softened butter. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to other ingredients.

  2. Add half of the flour and mix well until smooth. Add enough additional flour to make an easily handled dough. Knead dough on a lightly floured until smooth. Put dough in a greased bowl, cover and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size.

  3. When doubled, punch down and let double again. Divide dough into three parts. Roll each part until very thin in a rectangular shape. Spread filling on the dough, roll and twist in a circular shape like a snail or cinnamon roll. Place in greased 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans. Cover, put in warm place and let rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

To Make the Filling: 

  1. In a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, combine sugar, evaporated milk, and margarine.

  2. Add pecans, then beaten eggs, and mix well. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.

  3. Remove from heat and add pinch of salt, cocoa and cinnamon, and mix well. Let cool till just warm enough to spread.

A Word About Povitica / Potica

Barbara Rolek, Eastern European Food Expert says, "Povitica (poh-vee-TEET-sah), also known as Potica (poh-TEET-sah), is a yeast-raised dough rolled around a variety of fillings -- sweet or savory -- and then baked as a roll or in a cake pan or loaf pan.

"Its name derives from the Slovenian word poviti, which means 'to wrap in.' Every family has its favorite recipe and a walnut potica, the most popular kind, can vary from one household to the next.
"Sweet potica can be served as dessert with coffee or dry white wine, and savory potica is delicious as a side to the main meal or as a snack with cold beer."