Poppy seed roll potica (or povitica) is the world’s greatest strudel. This perfectly stuffed pastry will imprint on your memory faster than Cinnabon did the first time you smelled it in an airport! Do I have your attention now?
Potica, Povitica or Poppy Seed Roll?
(Please note potica, povitica, and poppy seed roll will be used interchangeably in the text.)
Potica is a fantastic pastry usually stuffed with either poppy seed or walnut filling. Today we're gonna stuff it with a filling made with ground poppy seeds, sugar, semolina, and milk. Potica tastes tart, gritty, and sweet at once.
Potica goes by different names in the Balkans.
- In Slovenia it goes by makova potica
- In Croatia by povitica or povetica s makom,
- In Serbia and Montenegro this is štrudla s makom, and
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina they call it makovnjača.
There are probably more names, and even the shapes can differ slightly. (For example, Slovenian makova potica is often made with thinner dough that has more layers. It's also usually baked in a bundt cake pan.)
Regardless of whether you call it potica, povitica, or poppy seed strudel, each stands for the same rich pastry overflowing with succulent poppy seed filling.
Ingredient and Method Notes
Many pastry doughs are milk-based. It gives the final product perfect soft doughiness. However, these pastries are rock hard after a short period of time.
For this reason, we make potica dough with water, with a method for making dough similar to pita. You let the dough rest and breathe for a while, and then you can stretch it to the stars. Or leave it in the fridge until you're ready to work it.
For best results don't make any dough substitutions in the recipe.
Potica filling is made with milk, poppy seed, semolina, sugar, and vanilla extract. If you're no fan of vanilla you can skip it. Oh, and, poppy seeds need to be finely ground!
The trick for a great poppy seed filling is not to over-fill or under-fill the roll. Potica tastes best when there is a nice ratio between dough and filling.
A good poppy seed roll requires perfect grit with perfect sweet.
How Do You Use Poppy Seeds?
- Grind them! This releases their oil and intensifies the flavor. If you don't, your potica will be too gritty and bitter, regardless of how much sugar you add. Use a coffee bean or spice grinder, and grind in small batches. (Food processors and blenders aren't your friends with seeds so small.)
- 4:1 Ratio! If you insist on more grit in your potica, then, if you must, mix ground and non-ground seeds at a 4:1 ratio.
- Unusual Filling Ingredient! In addition to poppy seeds, milk, sugar and vanilla, there is an ingredient you won't find in every poppy seed roll recipe. That's semolina! It helps the filling puff up and soften at the same time. (You probably remember our noodles where it did the same.)
(Our lightning-fast instructions are here to give you an idea of how to make potica. For more detailed information look at the recipe card below!)
1. Make the dough. Activate the baker’s yeast, and add it to flour together with oil and baking powder. Add water and knead until you get a soft ball of dough and let rise for at least an hour.
2. Make the filling. Boil milk and add sugar, vanilla extract, and poppy seeds. Finally, add semolina. Let rest and later divide it into two parts.
3. Combine dough and filling. Divide the dough into two parts. Roll out the first part, fill it up with one half of the filling and roll the long side up. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Place rolls in a pan, brush with water and butter, then bake.
4. Cool down. After baking potica let it cool down and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
- Nursing? Skip potica and make a walnut roll instead. There is a component in poppy seeds that causes colic (cramps) in babies.
- Drug tested? Don't eat poppy seeds around testing time. Remember Elaine? They may contain extracts of morphine and opium as those are made from unripe poppy seed capsules.
Serving, Storing and Freezing
- Serving: Although a dessert, potica can easily become your entire dinner. It’s hard to stop eating it. Best if you double the recipe from start. It goes great with a warm mint tea, coffee, or a glass of milk.
- Storing: If by some crazy chance you don't eat the entire strudel right away, fold it in saran wrap and leave in cupboard or bread box overnight. Reheat in oven. Potica lasts 3-4 days.
- Freezing: Nope!
Poppy dough roll (potica, povitica, makovnjača) probably made its way into the Balkans during the Austria-Hungary years. Yet, according to some Austrian sources, the roll may actually be a Turkish sweet. It may have even been considered to be baklava’s younger sister.
No. You can keep it in a dry place like a cupboard or a bread box for up to 3 days. Wrap in saran wrap first.
Potica roll is made from dough stuffed with a filling made by either a) walnuts, or b) poppy seeds. The dough is stretched, filled, then baked. The final result is a scrumptious thick roll(s) filled with a moist, fantastic filling.
More Sweet Recipes
- Mama’s Chocolate and Walnut Cake
- Walnut Marzipan Squares
- Choco Hazelnut Cake
- Jam Rolls
- No Bake Wafer Cake
- Jam Crescents
- No Bake Walnut Pralines aka Bajadera
- Balkan Homemade Cornbread From Scratch
Would You Do Me a Favor?
If you make today's Potica (Povitica) Poppy Seed Roll and like it, please consider leaving a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5-star) rating. This will help others find the recipe more easily!
You can also leave a comment, I read EVERY one! Finally, if IG is more your thing, consider tagging us @balkanlunchbox.
Prijatno and bon appetit!
Potica (Povitica) Poppy Seed Roll
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon baker's yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 17-18 ounces all purpose flour plus a more for dusting
- Pinch of salt
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 ounces oil
- 8.5 ounces lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons water to grease the dough
- 1 tablespoon melted butter to grease the dough
- 4-6 tablespoon confectioner's sugar after baking
- 15 ounces milk
- 8.5 ounces poppy seeds very finely ground
- 4.5 ounces sugar
- 2 ounces semolina
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Dough: In a small bowl combine 1-2 tablespoons water, baker's yeast and sugar. Mix and leave to bubble up (10-15 minutes).
- In a medium sized bowl add flour, salt, baking powder and mix everything. Make an indentation and add the yeast mixture, oil and water. Knead ingredients several minutes until you get a soft ball of dough. Leave dough to rise for an hour.
- Filling: (Make while dough is rising) In a medium sized pot add milk and bring to a boil on medium. Bring temperature down to low, add sugar, vanilla extract and ground poppy seeds. Mix well until integrated.
- While continuously stirring, add semolina. Continue stirring and cooking another 1-2 minutes. Turn the stove off and let the filling rest. When the filling cools down divide it into two equal parts.
- Assembly: Heat oven to 355°F (180°C) and dust working area with flour if needed. (Sometimes the dough is greasy enough where this isn't necessary. Your call.) The dough should be doubled now, so cut it into two equal parts.
- Take one dough half and roll it out into an (approximately) 8 by 16 inches rectangle. Then take one half of the filling and spread evenly over the dough rectangle almost all the way to the sides. Roll up the long side and place in a pan (sized approximately 12 by 17 inches) lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other halves.
- Mix water and butter then brush poppy seed rolls with it.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, then turn the pan around and cover the roll with parchment paper. Bake an additional 25 minutes. (Total baking time is 40 minutes.)
- Take the pan out of the oven, and let it cool down. You can cover it with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
- The roll keeps up to 3 days. Keep wrapped in saran wrap in bread box. Eat leftover potica cold or reheated.
Jas @ All that's Jas says
Love, love, love poppy seed roll! This brings back childhood memories, although my mom never baked, lol. But there were plenty of aunts around to spoil us. 🙂 Thanks for sharing important info for the best results!
Thanks lovely! Glad if you find the recipe helfpul. You can never go wrong with a warm strudel as far as I'm concerned. 😊💕
You explained it so well, my mouth is watering now. I want to ask, what is farina? I live it Switzerland. It translates to potato starch. Can i use polenta instead? Or Maizena? Is it made of wheat?
t's cream of wheat, or semolina. Hope that helps. We'll do an update to the recipe soon.
I've just made a dairy-free/vegan version of this (I'm anaphylactic to all milk products) and it is excellent. I went with the instructions on my dried yeast packet (2tsp per 500g flour) and added it into the flour directly which worked really well. I simply brushed poppy seeds soaked in soya milk on the top for glaze & browning. My slices look almost identical to yours!
I can see why you say it won't last long! It is delicious.
thanks for a great recipe
Welcome to the site! Thank you for your comment, our other readers with similar eating requirements will find it very helpful.
Glad you liked the taste - yes, it's hard not to eat it all at once 😁
Thank you so much for all your recipes. Sometime when I am trying to make a dish that my mom used to make, and I am missing a detail to make it great, I visit your website. I feel as if our families (our moms actually) learned how to cook from the same cook :). Or it could had just been "Sarajevo's working moms' school of quick and tasty meals".
And talking about moms, my mom used to have poppy seeds grinder. I am not interested in investing into yet another kitchen gadget :). You mentioned that we could electric coffee grinder; have you used it yourself or do you have a poppy seed grinder (my mom used to have one long time ago)? I've tried using pre-maid poppy seed mix but that didn't remind of home at all.
Thank you and Sretna Nova Godina!
Another Sarajevo transplant in United States,
Happy New Year to you too!
So glad that the recipes are of help, and that they awake a certain nostalgia for that special time.
I know what you mean about another kitchen gadget - both my sister and I are minimalists ourselves.
Yes, I've used an electric coffee grinder for poppy seeds before. A small food processor also works.
I'd stay away from blenders and pre-maid poppy seed mixes. They end up too gritty.
Let me know how your rolls turn out.
Aida and Aleksandra
Hi Aida! Romanian here. I have to say that your recipe is awesome, and so appetizing. Interestingly, is very similar to the Romanian recipe walnut roll recipe, which can be filled with ground walnut, but also with poppy seeds, cacao/chocolate, or Turkish delight. If you'd like to look over this Balkan recipe that is one of the most popular traditional desserts in Romania, I leave a link here: https://www.pro-recipes.com/romanian-walnut-roll-recipe-cozonac-recipe/ Thank you for sharing your recipe with us! 🙏
It's good to know that this roll is popular all throughout the region.
We'll check out your link.
Thanks for stopping by!
Andreea M says