Cinnamon Walnut Povitica


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Cinnamon Walnut Povitica is not like any old loaf of bread because the bread serves merely as a delicate shell for all of the rich, fantastic ingredients contained inside.

It was only as an adult that I learned that everyone, everywhere did not have Povitica at Christmas. In Kansas City, where I grew up, not a Christmas went by without Povitica from Strawberry Hill. It is an Eastern European bread, but to me, it’s also a little slice of Christmas in Kansas. Back home, I loved the loaves that came with cream cheese and apples, but my favorite was always the original – cinnamon walnut.

sliced povitica on a cutting board
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This was one of those baking challenges that I would only undertake here in Thailand where we cannot simply order our Povitica shipped directly to our door from Strawberry Hill. Nevertheless, it was not nearly as daunting as I thought it might be. Okay, so it’s not a walk in the park either. But, the only truly difficult step was getting the dough to be so fantastically thin that it would embody that paper-thin shell, holding all that filling, that I remember from home.

It helped that I found a great recipe from The Daring Kitchen, step-by-step instructions, measurements for batches that make four large loaves, two loaves, or even just one (which is what I include below). I didn’t even attempt to photograph the entire process, since the pictures provided at that site cannot be beat. I divided the recipe for one loaf further into four mini loaves so that we could share them with friends tonight as we celebrate the birthday of the King of Thailand. The loaves came out just as I remember from home, except that Strawberry Hill somehow piles an impossible amount of filling in each one. Next time I may even push it further and double the filling. Nevertheless, these tasted like Christmas to me, almost as much as the sight of our little tree and stockings hanging in the background as I baked them.

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sliced povitica on a cutting board
4.49 from 27 votes

Cinnamon Walnut Povitica

Slice into this festive bread with Eastern European origins to reveal many layers of sweet cinnamon, walnut filling.
Prep: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes


  • Mixing Bowls
  • Saucepan
  • Rolling Pin
  • Cooling Rack


To activate the Yeast:

  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons warm water

For the Dough:

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups (280 gm) all-purpose flour, measure first, then sift, divided

For the Filling:

  • cups (280 gm) ground walnuts
  • ½ cup (115 gm) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk from a large egg, beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • ½ teaspoon melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cold STRONG brewed coffee
  • teaspoons granulated sugar
  • extra butter for brushing the crust, after baking


  • In a small bowl, stir 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into 2 Tbsp. warm water and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 5 minutes
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
  • In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, sugar, and the salt until combined. Add egg, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1/2 cups of flour. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
  • Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  • About 30 minutes before the dough is finished rising, in a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and butter to boiling. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough. (If the mixture becomes too thick to spread, add a small amount of warm milk.)
  • Sprinkle a clean counter with a couple of tablespoons of flour (use flour sparingly). Turn out the dough and roll with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 12 inches square. Spoon ½ tsp. of melted butter over the dough. Using your hands, gently stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. (You can also use a rolling pin, if you prefer.) As you work, continually pick up the dough from the counter, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color of the counter underneath.
  • Spoon walnut filling evenly over dough until covered. Gently roll the dough like a jelly roll. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. Coil the remainder of the dough around itself, tucking the end into the rest of the dough so that the surface of the dough is relatively smooth.
  • Whisk together the coffee and granulated sugar for topping. Brush the top of the loaf with the mixture. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes. While resting, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bake the roll at 350°F for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and bake until golden brown on the top and cooked through, about 30-40 minutes more. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes in the bread pan. When cool, turn out onto a cutting board.
  • Serve immediately or store, covered at room temperature for several days.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Keyword: bread recipe, Christmas, holiday desserts, holidays
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If you like povitica, you will love this Cinnamon Star Bread.

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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.49 from 27 votes (23 ratings without comment)

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  1. Would you recommend adding more of the cinnamon sugar filling if I don’t add the walnuts? I took out the walnuts and when I baked it, the texture and taste was amazing, but the layers were super thin and there wasn’t much of the inside goodness. Any suggestions?

  2. 5 stars
    Local kansas city chef here makin GB it for the first time. I always liked strawberry hill. The strawberry one is my favorite, wondered if you know the replacement for that filling for the walnut. Going to try different variations so we can have it at our coffee bar in the hotel in the am. Thanks

    1. Hi Jonathan!! So fun to get your note! I love the strawberry one too…well, let’s be real, I love them all. 😉 I haven’t attempted the strawberry filling, but I’d love to know what you do if you’re able to figure it out! It’s in my plans to rework this recipe next fall with some other fillings.

  3. 5 stars
    Oh, wow! I grew up in KC and have had Strawberry Hill’s povitica several times. Living in Washington state now, and mom brings a loaf whenever she visits. My sister sent me a loaf of their pumpkin spice for my birthday less than a month ago and I had to try making it for myself! I found your recipe, mustered my courage, and got to it today, with my 7 year old daughter’s help (after we printed and color-coded the ingredients and recipe steps). Just out of the oven it looks beautiful, had to wait to slice. It tastes amazing! Thanks for including weights for flour, especially. I would love to make this again with a bit more rest/rise time and maybe a tad longer in the oven.

    1. Oh Liz – I’m so thrilled to hear this! I definitely missed Strawberry Hill povitica all those years I lived away from KC. I’m so glad that you tried it and that your 7 year old got in on the fun!

      1. 5 stars
        First time baking this. It turned out picture perfect & delicious. I was just wondering if recipe could be tripled or doubled.
        Thank you.

        1. Sherle – absolutely! The recipe can be tripled to make multiple loaves. I’ve often made this in large batches to gift to people.

  4. 4 stars
    I am a Kansas City Girl now living on the central coast of California! I just found this recipe and now I know what I’ll be doing this weekend! Thank you!

  5. I make 30-12” legs of Potica every year for Christmas gifts. This is similar but am wondering what the significance of the coffee & sugar mixture brushed on the top is all about? Does it add to the flavor, soften the top crust & can you taste the coffee? I’m just wondering? Would it help to make the top crust softer so it doesn’t crack as mine do? I also bake mine for 1 hour at 325 deg. Would your bake temp & time help mine from not splitting? Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks!

    1. Carla. What a fun Christmas tradition. I used to do that and would love to get back into it – politica is so festive! The coffee / sugar mixture does all the things you mention – it adds flavor and I’m quite certain that the added moisture helps to prevent cracks. It doesn’t taste like coffee after baking. It does sort of bring out the flavor of the fillings though. I’m not sure about the bake temp / time making a difference because I haven’t tested mine at different bake temps and times. I’m suspicious that the brush of liquid over top would fix the cracks on its own.

  6. Hi, Just finished making this bread for the first time. It is delicious and the dough is sooo easy to work with. I enjoy baking and always looking for new thing to make. I’ll make it again next week when the family comes for Easter. New tradition!!!!
    Thank you

    1. Elaine, thanks so much for letting me know! I think you’ve inspired me to make a batch this weekend – I usually think of it at Christmas, but it’s a great idea for Easter!

  7. hey jessic this looks amazing! just wondering if the baking time changes if you make it in mini loaves of 4..?

    1. Hi there! Thanks for your note. I did need to reduce the baking time by about 7-8 minutes, but no matter what, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the bread as it bakes. The cooking time seems to fluctuate a bit, but the most important thing is to make sure the surface doesn’t get too dark.

      1. This was featured on The Great British Baking Show. I’m curious why this breads origin wasn’t mentioned in your article and/or recipe. Is it true it originated in Croatia as stated by TGBBS?

        1. Hi Julie – I actually wasn’t aware of that. I only know of this bread from buying it at my local Strawberry Hill bakery here in Kansas City! I’ll have to look for that episode!

  8. This looks amazing! I know what you mean about being away from those traditional holiday foods. My sister popped over to Stockholm last weekend (from London, not Vancouver) and we made a Christmas dinner. We made (among other things) my mom’s ‘east coast stuffing’ and my mother in law’s sauerkraut soup, both of which are traditional Christmas dinner items. We all agreed they were good, but not the same as our moms make them.

    Now I’m counting down the days until I’m in Thailand for our warm winter getaway!

    1. Glad you’re enjoying a bit of Christmas tradition before your tropical vacation out here! The weather has been absolutely spectacular – you’re going to have a great time in Thailand!

  9. Oh my goodness I can never go past a recipe with cinnamon and walnuts. I’ve never had this before but I’d be willing to start a new tradition. Yum!