It may be a little hazy, but one of my fondest memories was tip-toeing around the front room at my brothers godparents house in Pymble. I reckon I was about 7 or 8 at the time and remember a room full of traditional Croatian pastries on covered plates and in plastic containers. It was the sweetest smelling room.
My siblings and I would often sneak a piece here and there, hoping the gaps we’d created would go unnoticed. One of the pastries I liked most was the poppy seed roll and the nut roll, and I remember always eating the sweet filling first before finishing the rest of the pastry.
So here we have povitica. It’s basically a bread dough rolled out thin, smeared with a ground nut mixture, rolled, coiled and baked. The filling is slightly sweet and it goes well with a coffee or cold glass of milk.
There are many variations of this Eastern European bread, and with mine I’ve tossed in some lemon zest, a few poppy seeds and a light splash of rum.
In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the water. Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, melted butter and 1½ cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
For the filling, combine butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, rum, lemon zest and nuts. Gradually stir in the milk until the mixture is of spreading consistency (about ¼ cup). Set aside.
Punch dough down. Roll into a 75 cm x 50 cm rectangle and spread the filling within 2 cm of the edges. Roll up from one long side; pinch seams and ends to seal. Shape into a tight spiral and place into a buttered loaf tin in a spiral fashion. Cover and allow to rise until nearly doubled – about 1 hour.
Bake at 180°C for 35 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Brush with a glaze of icing sugar and milk.