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Polish Potato Povitica Bread

Poland is covered in Walnut trees, If a field is left fallow very long, the farmer must root out the young walnuts that the birds will have so kindly planted.

One aspect of research for historical fiction are the questions about what crops are abundant in that region and what foods would the people have enjoyed. For the region of Southern Poland where "Expelled: A Story of the Polish Resistance" is set, the answer is potatoes, and walnuts. One of their traditional sweetbreads, served mostly on holidays, is POVITICA bread.

Though various sites claim that 'POVITICA' means 'walnuts' it doesn't. It comes from the word meaning 'to roll'. Indeed, Povitica bread is a rolled bread with a filling of butter, sugar and minced walnuts. (The word or term for 'Walnut' in Polish is ORZECH WLOSKI and in Croatian the word is 'ORAH')

I offer people slices of fresh Povitica Bread when I do book signings or book club meetings because it is the EXPELLED main character's favorite treat. So I've made povitica bread many times. I started by following recipes that were just okay, then tweaking recipes and finally, I have a delicious, soft, moist, flavorful version that holds together pretty well. . .if I'm careful. (It tends to want to unwind like a cinnamon roll.)

At yesterday's book signing at Hideaway Books in American Fork, UT, several people asked for this final version of the recipe, so here it is.

Makes 2 loaves


1 cup warm water

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

1/4 cup sugar

Mix and let sit for 10 minutes


1 cup baby-bottle temperature whole or 2% milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup mashed potato flakes

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

3 tablespoons oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or use white flour if you prefer)

Mix with a beater for 5 minutes

Add enough white, all-purpose flour to make a soft dough that holds it's shape. (About 2 cups.)

Form into a ball. (It may be a bit sticky, but that's okay. Oil your hands to handle it.)

Cover with saran wrap if you live in a dry place, or with a damp towel if you live in a humid place

Let rise in a warm place until double.

While the dough is rising make the filling:

In a blender or food processor place;

1/4 cup whole or 2% milk

1/4 cup melted butter

2 cups walnuts

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

blend until pretty smooth The filling will be somewhat runny.

Assemble the Povitica bread

Divide dough into two parts.

On a well-floured surface, roll into an 18" x 8 inch rectangle

spread with half the filling and roll into an 18" tube.

Grease a 9x5 loaf pan

Place the long roll in an S pattern in the pan and press so the top is fairly flat and the corners are filled. (google "povitica bread" and you'll find recipes that show what it looks like in the pan if you're not sure.)

Let rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes and then preheat your oven to 325. When oven is heated, place on middle rack and bake for 35 minutes. Turn off oven and let sit for 10 minutes more before removing from the oven.

Leave the bread in the pans to cool so the filling sets and the loaf holds its shape.

Remove from pan, slice with serrated knife.

This unusual baking methods helps the bread hold its shape and not fall apart as readily.


Comment to let me know how it went or ask questions.

These slices are from earlier attempts. One with 100% whole wheat, the other with all white. But this is what the full slices look like.

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