Povitisa Cinnamon Nut Bread

Everyone has their own cherished holiday traditions that are lovingly passed down through the generations of their family. And many of these special traditions are edible treats! I’m not sure how many of you are or are not familiar with an incredibly sweet and dense bread filled with a thick cinnamon-nut filling that I am going to share with you today. It is called “Povitisa” and is a nostalgic favorite from Eastern European countries, such as Croatia, Slovenia, and Slovakia.
Povitisa is a rolled yeast bread, very similar to a strudel that is commonly served for special occasions only, such as Christmas. This delicious sweet bread is also perfect alongside a warm cup of morning coffee or as a dessert. We typically nosh on it all day long though!
My family, although Italian, came across this recipe from their earliest days in the United States when so many immigrants from ‘the old countries’ had brought their time-tested, treasured recipes with them, passed them down and shared them, thus continuing the preservation of their cultural traditions. The men in my family were coal miners in Iowa, as so many European immigrants were at the turn of the 20th century. And it was in those coal mining villages that the women shared these recipes among themselves. It is said that a gift of povitisa from one family to another is a symbol of respect.
Povitisa is a bread made of sweetened dough that is rolled out very thin and flat, and then heavily slathered with a cinnamon-y walnut filling. While walnut is the most traditional of the fillings used to make povitisa, other choices of fillings include chocolate, hazelnuts, strawberry jam, apples, cherries, and/or cream cheese. After the filling is spread over the dough, it is rolled up tightly, placed into loaf pans for uniform sizes and baked.
A beautiful sweet filled bread results from your efforts and when you slice into the bread you see the gooey, gooey swirled cinnamon nut filling. Though it is sublime eaten when directly popped out of the oven, this bread will keep for several months when frozen.
Here is my family’s version of this delicious bread that we only bake for Christmas.
Povitisa Cinnamon Nut Bread
What you need for the bread:
For the filling:
  • 2 cups of milk, scalded
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 cups of ground walnuts or more until thicker
  • ¼ cup cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
For the bread dough:
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ⅔ cup melted shortening (Crisco, etc.)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 cups scalded milk
  • 10 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten eggs (jumbo)
  • 2 packets or cakes of yeast
  • ¾ cup sugar
  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Over low heat, cook while stirring constantly until brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Let cool.
For the Dough:
  1. Dissolve 1 tsp. sugar in lukewarm water.
  2. Add the yeast and COOLED milk.
  3. Add the shortening, sugar and salt.
  4. Add the beaten eggs.
  5. Add 3 - 4 cups of lour.
  6. Beat thoroughly.
  7. Add the rest of the flour and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Knead the dough until light and elastic.
  9. Place in a large greased bowl.
  10. Cover with a damp cloth and place in the refrigerator to rise.
Assemble the bread:
  1. Cover table with floured cloth.
  2. Place dough on cloth and roll until it is ⅛" thick.
  3. Spread filling evenly.
  4. Roll up and seal the dough.
  5. Prick the dough with a fork.
  6. Place in greased loaf pan. Cover.
  7. Place in warm spot and let it rise until the bread dough doubles in size.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees until the bread is light brown.
Before I sign out for this post, I need to give very special recognition to my sweet little God-Daughter, Ashleigh, for taking the pictures of the nut bread and for reading the recipe to me while I typed it on this post. She’s a future photographer and food blogger!
Love, Aunt Roz


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  1. says

    I’ve been wondering where you have been lately! The bread looks delicious and I love that story about how it came to be part of your family.

  2. says

    That looks fantastic Roz!!! Send me a loaf would ya?

    I have a horribly busy week due to procrastination, so wishing you a wonderful Christmas & a Happy New Year!

  3. says

    Hey Roz The bread looks fabulous! Reminds me of the poppy seed bread my grandmother used to make. No time to try it now [sad face] Wishing you and yours a glorious and blessed Christmas!

  4. says

    First, I can’t wait to make this for Christmas this year.

    Second, why use regular flour instead of bread flour?

    Third, 10 cups of flour? Wow, how big is the loaf??

    Thanks :) !!

  5. says

    Hi Katherine, This recipe makes about 5 HUGE loaves of bread. I use regular flour simply from what was passed down to me from my mother. But why not try it with bread flour if that’s what you prefer? Sounds like it would be wonderful! This is a challenging bread and very expensive if purchased from the few mail order bakers who make it. But it is worth every cinnamon-y bite! Happy Holidays! Roz

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