A Brief History of Potica, the Traditional Slovenian Dish

Potica with a Walnut filling in the shape of a heart │Courtesy of Lojze Posedel
Potica with a Walnut filling in the shape of a heart │Courtesy of Lojze Posedel
Photo of Andreja Posedel
26 May 2017

Slovenians have been preparing Potica for centuries. The first mention of this traditional dish goes back to the 16th century, when it was recorded in the first book ever printed in the Slovenian language.

When speaking about Potica (po-teet-za), it is almost impossible not to mention family. This traditional Slovenian festive cake is served on big holidays and celebrations. Dough with different fillings is baked in a variation of a bundt pan and served at important holidays like Christmas and Easter.

The most important part of making Potica is the preparation of the leavened dough, which is a delicate process that takes time, patience, and a lot of practice. Once the dough has risen, it is filled with either a sweet or savory filling, then baked in order to make the Potica. There are over forty different kinds of fillings for Potica, but the most popular among the Slovenian natives are walnut, tarragon, honey, bacon, and carob. Many cookbooks offer recipes on how to prepare traditional Potica, but most households still make this traditional dish with the recipe that has been passed down in their family from generation to generation.

Making of Potica │ | ©emma.kate/flicker

Throughout history, all social classes prepared Potica when celebrating festive occasions. The filling of the cake was a symbol of the family’s social status. The wealthier families used expensive fillings such as walnuts and cream, and the poor could only afford to fill it with herbs or lovage (hard bits of fat). Today the filling is not an indicator of a family’s class anymore, but Potica continues to be a tradition in Slovenian families.

Potica │ | ©martin gruden/freeimages

No important holiday is celebrated without traditional Potica. After many centuries, it still symbolizes a festive time when the whole family gathers at home. It brings out happy memories and hopes for a good future. When traveling in Slovenia, visitors should try this traditional dish to see why it has been and remains so important to the people of Slovenia.

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