Potica can be considered one of the most iconic desserts in Slovenia and typically plays the central role at culinary events throughout the country (exhibitions, competitions, courses, workshops), as it is a symbol of Slovenia’s culinary heritage. Potica is usually served on religious holidays or other important events (such as Christmas or New Year), important life events (such as birth, marriage or family traditions) or professional achievements. Potica is usually available in shops, bakeries, inns and pastry shops, but the best is of course homemade. 1
To describe the pastry itself: It is a round bun filled with a sweet or savoury filling. The filling and the ingredients used can vary depending on the region and family tradition, as recipes are passed down from generation to generation. Even if it’s just about the filling, there are over a hundred types of potica. The tarragon filling is the most characteristic of the country and its culinary history, while the walnut filling is considered the most popular (and both recipes are currently among the few protected variants). Variations also arise from the different flours used to prepare the dough – in addition to wheat, potica can also be made with buckwheat, corn, rye, spelt or a combination of these. 1
As told by Jožica Verček, potica must be prepared in potičnik; a special baking tray for potica that is cylindrical in shape and has a hole in the centre. In case the perimeter of the tray is ribbed, it should be ribbed vertically. 2 According to the tradition, the shape supposedly symbolises eternity and perfection, and potica prepared to celebrate Easter represents the crown of thorns.
As for the history of the pastry, potica is said to have originated in the western and northwestern regions of Slovenia, where the original pastry was a festive bread or a bread prepared for ceremonial purposes in the Middle Ages. The honey filling is one of the oldest known types of potica. 3
In Katekizem (Catechism, published in 1550), the first printed Slovenian book, potica was mentioned for the first time. A century later, in the book Slava Vojvodine Kranjske, a comparison was made between potica and various similar baked goods to explain and distinguish them. Over time, potica has gained in importance and is mentioned more and more frequently in Slovenian literature (especially in culinary books); in recent decades, several works have even been devoted exclusively to potica. 3
1 A. P. Jerič (2018). “Potica je največja slovenska kulinarična posebnost.” Sourced from: https://www.rtvslo.si/moja-generacija/dobro-pocutje/prehrana/potica-je-najvecja-slovenska-kulinaricna-posebnost/450224
2 Wikipedia. Slovenska potica. https://sl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovenska_potica
3 Ministrstvo za kulturo (2021). Opis enote nesnovne kulturne dediščine. Sourced from: https://www.gov.si/assets/ministrstva/MK/DEDISCINA/NESNOVNA/RNSD_SI/Rzd-02_00098.pdf