Povitica is an eye-catching sweet yeast bread with a walnut and cinnamon filling. Traditionally served at celebrations, it originated in Croatia and has other Eastern European variants.

In this recipe

  • What is Povitica?
  • origins
  • Povitica vs. Babka
  • Shape the bread
  • Add some shine
  • when to serve

Sometimes you need a real showstopper dessert that tells everyone that today is a special day, or a recipe that’s comforting enough to warm up your spirits on even the coldest of days. Povitica is this dessert.

What is Povitica?

Povitica is an eye-catching bread with a walnut and cinnamon filling. It’s traditionally served on special occasions like Christmas and Easter, but is also cozy enough to be your cold-weather treat.

Povitica starts with a yeast dough enriched with egg, butter and sugar and is thinly rolled out into a long rectangle. Walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar are combined into a nutty paste that is spread generously over the dough. The whole thing is rolled into a long, tight strand and folded into an “S” before baking in the loaf tin.

The result is a sweet, fluffy bread patterned with intricate swirls of walnut spread. Povitica is halfway between cinnamon strudel bread and cinnamon buns. It looks similar to cinnamon strudel bread but is sweeter, fluffier, and nuttier; but still not quite as opulent as cinnamon rolls.

Origins of Povitica

Povitica is a holiday bread from Croatia. It’s usually served around Christmas or Easter, but it’s likely to show up for weddings and special occasions. A similar bread called potica is made in neighboring Slovenia, often made with even more butter in the dough and baked in a ring resembling a bundt or ring cake.

Povitica is also popular in many parts of the United States, where Central European immigrants settled with their tried-and-true family recipes. In these parts of the country, some bakeries still make povitica using recipes passed down from previous generations, such as at the famous Strawberry Hill Baking Company in Kansas.

How is Povitica different from Babka?

How to shape Povitica

Povitica dough will appear sticky as you mix it, but after the initial rise it’s deliciously soft and easy to work with. Be generous with the flour when rolling out the dough. Brush away any excess with a pastry brush or your fingertips as you roll it up to help the layers stick together.

The filling should be thick but spreadable, almost like natural chunky peanut butter. Leave a 1/2-inch margin around the edges of the dough to keep the filling from oozing out when you roll up the dough.

Similar to how you would make cinnamon rolls, roll the dough tightly and tightly into a tight rope. Being firm helps avoid gaps in the spirals in the baked bread. Gently stretch out the rope and even out the thickness until it is about 20 to 24 inches long. Carefully place the dough sheet in the loaf pan and fold in thirds. The loaf should be three strands wide along the loaf pan and shaped like a wide “S.”

Add some shine to Povitica

While this bread is certainly rich enough on its own, if you’re looking for a way to make it over the top, why not try a glaze or a simple powdered sugar.

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup (57 g) powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon water to create a thick but pourable glaze. You can adjust with more powdered sugar or water to your liking. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cooled Povitica.

If you prefer a sweet and simple decoration, dust the bread generously with powdered sugar instead of icing the top.

Anytime can be Povitica time

Because this bread isn’t overly sweet, it’s just as tempting for breakfast or brunch as it is for an afternoon treat. Plus, the sweet, toasted cinnamon and walnuts in a slice of Povitica pair perfectly with a hot cup of coffee. While it’s deliciously soft and fluffy the day it’s baked, I also like to reheat leftover slices in the toaster and top them with a knob of salted butter.


preparation time
40 minutes

cooking time
60 minutes

rising time
3 hours

total time
4 hrs 40 mins

12 servings

1 bread


For the dough:

  • 2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons (30G) unsalted butter

  • 2 1/2 cups (300G) all purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons (40G) granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 big egg

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk

  • 1/4 cup (57G) unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) walnut

  • 1/2 cup (107G) light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoon Cinammon

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoon apricot jam

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For covering:

  • 1 big egg

special equipment

  • putty

  • rolling pin

  • pastry brush


Make the dough

  1. Heat milk and butter:

    In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and butter until butter has melted. Alternatively, place milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 15-second batches until butter is melted. Try not to boil the milk.

    Let the mixture stand until lukewarm while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

  2. Mix the dry ingredients:

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt.

  3. Knead the dough:

    Pour the warm milk mixture and egg into the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough forms into a rough ball, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-low and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. This should take 8 to 10 minutes, but keep kneading until the dough gathers around the dough hook and the sides of the bowl are mostly clean.

  4. Let the dough rise at room temperature:

    Scrape out the dough on a clean surface and shape into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl with butter. Place the dough back into the bowl, seam side down, and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

    accommodation: At this point, the dough can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days.

Make the filling

  1. Prepare the walnut filling – heat the milk and butter:

    While the dough is rising, prepare the walnut filling.

    In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and butter until butter has melted. Alternatively, place milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 15-second batches until butter is melted.

    Let the mixture sit until lukewarm while you prepare the remaining ingredients for the filling.

  2. Prepare the ingredients for the filling:

    Place walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until walnuts are finely chopped and mixture resembles coarse sand.

    Pour in milk and butter, jam and vanilla extract. Process until combined. The filling has a texture similar to natural chunky peanut butter. Cover and let rest until ready to use.

Shape the povitica

  1. Prepare the pan:

    Generously grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with butter. Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a few inches overhanging the long sides. Don’t worry about the short sides, the parchment overhang works like handles so you can easily lift the loaf out later.

  2. Roll out the dough:

    Lightly flour a clean work surface and scrape out the dough onto it. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a long rectangle about 20 x 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick, with the long edge closest to you.

    Pause as you roll to stir the dough regularly, lifting it off the work surface and adding a little extra flour if it starts to stick. You can also gently stretch the dough with your hands to get a rectangular shape.

  3. Distribute filling:

    Pour the walnut filling onto the dough and, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread it evenly over the entire surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

  4. Roll up the dough:

    Wrap the dough into a tight spiral, starting with the long end closest to you. Use even pressure to form a tight cylinder. If necessary, stretch the dough gently to achieve an even thickness. It should be about 24 inches long.

  5. Form Povitica:

    Fold the dough sheet in thirds, forming a long “S” down the length of the long edge of the pan. Place the bread in the center of the prepared pan. It’s okay if the batter doesn’t completely fill the pan at this point. As the dough rises, it will expand and fill the loaf pan.

  6. Proof at room temperature:

    Cover the pan with a piece of cling film or a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours until it has almost doubled in size. The dough should be puffy and risen about 1/2 inch below the rim of the pan.

Bake the povitica

  1. Preheat the oven:

    When the bread is almost ready to bake, place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

  2. Eggs wash the top of the dough:

    Crack an egg into a small bowl and whisk with a tablespoon of water using a fork or small whisk. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg milk onto the top of the batter.

  3. Bake:

    Place the povitica in the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 300F and bake the bread for 60 to 70 minutes or until golden on top. A toothpick inserted into the loaf should come out without any doughy bits sticking to it. Or you can check with an instant thermometer which should read 190°F.

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  4. Save on computer:

    Store the cooled Povitica in plastic wrap or in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days.

    You can freeze Povitica for up to 1 month. Once cool, wrap the bread in a few layers of plastic wrap, and then in foil. Defrost the bread at room temperature, still wrapped. Before serving, you can reheat it in a 325°F oven for about 10 minutes, until warmed through and cooking smells buttery and nutty.

nutritional information (per serving)
361 calories
19g Fat
43g carbohydrates
7g protein
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