Povitica nut roll

With people being so diverse and having different cultures, I am always intrigued with the many types of foods out there. I think it’s so important to learn about different cultures. As a young adult, I learned to make povitica from Frankie Joe and John Mraz. This recipe was passed onto them from their mother, Nonie. She was the sweetest lady! I was fortunate to meet her, and also to spend a few hunting camps with Frankie Joe and John. Povitica is a Slavic holiday nut roll and is very popular around the Gallup area. This recipe will make approximately 2 ½ large povitica rolls and can take upwards of five hours to make (counting time to grate nuts, make and bake).

Ingredients for dough:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cube of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 3 cups of milk (boil and let cool)
  • 2 packages of fast-rising yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • ½ cup of warm water

Boil the 3 cups of milk and let cool. Next, mix 2 teaspoon of sugar and  ½ cup of warm water with the two packages of fast-rising yeast in a bowl. Let the yeast rise. DO NOT put the milk in yet.

Put all of the above in a large mixing bowl (once the milk cools) and add 8 cups of flour (a little at a time). Mix well after each addition. Mix the ingredients and knead well (you may need to add a little more flour as you progress). You want the flour to be elastic, and it may be tacky. Divide the dough into approximately three balls and place them in well-greased bowls (I use Crisco). Cover the bowls with towels and place them in a warm area so the dough rises (this will take approximately 30 minutes).

Ingredients for innards:

  • 5 pounds of finely grated walnuts (I substitute with New Mexico-grown pecans)
  • 20 beaten eggs
  • 1 pound of melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Milk of choice (needed to thin mixture if too thick, a little goes a long way so use it carefully)

Put the ingredients for the innards in a bowl and mix well. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little milk to thin it out, but do so sparingly. You don’t want it too “watery.”

Coat three large disposable aluminum pans with Crisco (approximately 10 inches by 12 inches at a minimum). Preheat your oven to 350 degrees at this time and have about 1 ½ cubes of butter melted to gently paint on your povitica rolls once they are rolled out, both before and after baking.

Place a cloth tablecloth over the top of a 45-inch or larger round table. This is where you will roll out the dough. Coat the tablecloth well with flour. Once the dough has risen, grab one of your balls of dough, place it in the middle of the table and begin rolling it out. This process works best with two people. Make sure to use heavier rolling pins and coat them well with flour before beginning. Roll the dough out as thin as you can. You should be able to see through the dough, as it is so thin. When you are getting close to being finished, coat your hands with flour. You can begin slowly placing your hands underneath the rolled dough and pulling it toward yourself gently (you may not need to do this step). Cut off any thick outer edges of the dough with a pizza cutter. Take care to not tear your dough. Spread the innards/mixture out evenly with a spatula. Do this gently, so as to not tear the dough. At this point, you can pick up one end of your tablecloth and begin gently rolling the dough. It will look like a giant taquito.

Once it is rolled up, crimp or fold the edges and gently place the povitica roll in your well- greased pan. This will take two people.

With your 1 ½ cubes of melted butter, go ahead and gently paint your unbaked roll and place it in your oven to bake until golden brown. You may choose to sit your aluminum pan on a cookie sheet before putting it in the oven for stability and cleanliness. Baking can take about 45 minutes, but just keep an eye on it. You can use a wooden toothpick to push through various locations of the baked roll to ensure it is baked all the way through. If anything sticks to the toothpick, bake it longer. The finished product will have a hollow sound if tapped once completely baked. If baking multiple rolls at one time, I like to alternate their location in the oven a few times. Upon baking, paint the povitica roll with melted butter and place it in an area to cool. While the first roll is baking, repeat the steps to complete your second and third rolls.

Once the rolls cool, you can cut them into approximately three pieces and properly wrap them to freeze for a later date or share with family and friends. To eat, just thinly slice pieces to eat.


Thank you, and have a happy holiday season and Merry Christmas!

About Storm Usrey

Storm Usrey is the Conservation Education Manager for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.