At Christmas, especially during tough economic times, people start looking for ways to give gifts without spending too much money. Some of the most thoughtful gifts anyone can give are things they have made themselves. And with the busy holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, people who like to entertain but are pressed for time, appreciate the thoughtfulness of someone giving them a gift from the kitchen.
I remember my mother’s best friend, a sweet woman named Elsie Boucher, giving a very special home made bread to our family and many of her other friends. Though this bread may not have originally been intended as a Christmas treat, it so happened we were lucky recipients of the gift in December. From then on I considered it a Christmas staple.
This recipe from my mother’s box of favorites took time and patience in the making and my mom did not even try to duplicate it after she got the recipe because she didn’t think she could do it justice. For this reason alone we appreciated the love represented by this gift from Elsie’s kitchen.
Elsie’s Potica (A Slovenian Bread)
2 cakes yeast
2 cups milk (scalded)
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 t. salt
¼ cup butter
8 cups flour
Soften yeast in water. Meanwhile scald milk. To hot milk add salt, sugar, and butter. Blend. Cool to lukewarm. Add eggs and yeast. Sift 6 cups flour into large bowl. Gradually add milk mixture, beat hard. This makes a sticky dough. Gradually add the other 2 cups flour or enough to make a medium soft dough. On a well-floured board, knead for 15-20 minutes. Put in large greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in warm place till double, about 2 hours.
1 pound ground walnuts
1 cup honey
½ cup sugar
Scald 1 cup milk in heavy, large skillet. It burns easily. Add 1 pound ground walnuts. Let come to a boil while stirring. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well. Blend 1 cup honey and ½ cup sugar. Add to milk mixture gradually while stirring. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Cool. Cover a 38×60 inch table with cloth or sheet. Flour lightly. Put dough in center, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes. Pull dough gently until it covers the table, at least an inch over the edge. Dough should be very thin. If it tears, patch it. Cut off dough hanging over the edge, trim evenly and carefully. Spread filling evenly over dough and cover every inch. Roll by lifting end of cloth and rolling evenly over and over, not too rapidly. Put roll in paper lined and greased 10x13x2 inch pan, in the form of an S pushed together. Cover with waxed paper and cloth. Let rise till double in bulk, for about 2 hours. Prick 10-12 times on top and sides. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour.
Note added by Elsie: “I often pinch rolled dough off in bread pan length pieces and bake in loaf pans.”
Reference: My mother’s recipe box