Sourdough walnut swirl bread

Published Categorized as Sourdough Bread Recipes

When I was younger I would often ask my mom to make me a plum jam swirl bread. It was my ultimate comfort food. I got lost in the velvety crumb texture and seductive scent of baked plums and crunchy crust burnt in the wood-fired stove. Many years later I know that stepping into comfort food means overhearing my heart’s whisper calls to reality and avoiding questions about how I really feel. I know how I feel. It’s spring with all its light, lightness and uncertainties that just ask to be acknowledged. However, not with food, but with awareness. In this way I can leave the baked goods to just bring up all their hidden beauty unburdened by my thoughts. Just like the sweet sourdough walnut swirl bread, potica.

Potica [po-TEET-sah] is a typical Slovenian festive swirl bread eaten for Easter and Christmas. It comes in different shapes (round, long) and different fillings (walnut, poppy seeds, tarragon, chocolate, coconut, cracklings, carob). Regardless the varieties, good potica is nowadays still considered as the pride of each housewife.

Sourdough potica - walnut roll

Sourdough walnut swirl bread – potica [po-TEET-sah]
Yields: for 4 people that are having a cup of tea in the afternoon

Baking schedule:
The dough for sourdough walnut roll was mixed in the morning, left to rise for 4.5 hours, then rolled and left to rise for the second time for another 1.5 hour. Sourdough starter was mixed a night before and left to rise overnight.
If you would like to make the roll during the week when you are at work, mix the dough in the morning and then just make sure you leave the dough to rise at the temperature to have the dough doubled in volume when you come home from work.

Ingredients for the dough:
225 g white wheat flour
150 g active white wheat flour sourdough starter
100 g walnut milk (or any other milk of your choice)
1 tablespoon rum
1 tablespoon honey (I used acacia honey which has quite neutral taste, you could also use floral honey)
35 g fat (I used 12 g of butter and 2 tablespoons of lemon peel infused olive oil that tastes like a liquid lemon peel 🙂
4 g fine sea salt

Ingredients for the filling:
150 g ground walnuts
200 g apple sauce
1 tablespoon rum
1 tablespoon honey

Other: 10 ice cubes for steam during the bake


1. The night before preparing the walnut swirl bread, mix 75g of white wheat flour, 75 g of water and 1 tablespoon of your active sourdough starter. Leave to ferment overnight or until risen and bubbly on the surface.

2. In the morning, dissolve all of your starter in walnut milk. Add honey, rum, fat, salt and mix well. Add 225 g of flour and knead the dough until all ingredients come together. The dough will be quite soft. You could notice that the dough has a slight purple to grey tone – is it because of the tannins in the walnuts. Then knead the dough for 5 more minutes until the dough becomes smooth. Transfer it to a clean and slightly greased bowl and leave to rise until doubled in volume. It took 4.5 hours for my dough to double. If you would like to speed up the fermentation, you can place the bowl into a slightly warm oven.

Sourdough walnut roll - dough

Left: Mixed and kneaded dough. Right: Fully risen dough ready to be shaped.

3. Just before you see your dough getting doubled in volume, prepare the filling and your baking dish. For the filling: mix ground walnuts with warm or cold  apple sauce, honey and rum. Mix well until you get smooth paste. If the filling feels dry add more apple sauce to make it more spreadable.  To prepare a baking dish grease it with fat (butter, coconut oil) and sprinkle it with flour.

4. When the dough has doubled, use a plastic scraper to take it on a working surface and shape it into a ball. Leave it to rest for at least 10 minutes so you will be able to roll it easily as the dough will not shrink back.

5. Roll the dough to be about half centimeter thick (or less if you would like to have more swirls seen in the profile) and to be as long as the inner perimeter of your baking dish (use a piece of string to measure it). Spread the filling across to the edges but leave a 2 cm stripe at one longer side without filling.

Sourdough walnut roll - shaping

Left: Walnut fill. Right: dough with walnut fill prepared to be rolled.

6. Start rolling the dough tightly at the longer edge with filling. When done, carefully transfer it to a baking dish seam-side down and make sure you tuck the ends together.

7. Leave the dough to rise again. It took my dough 1.5 hour to be fully proofed. How will you know the dough is ready to be put in the oven? Make an indent with your finger and observe the reaction – if the indent springs back quickly, leave it to rise a little bit more. If it comes back slowly, you will know it’s ready to be put in the oven.

Sourdough walnut roll

Left: dough after being rolled. Right: dough ready to be put in the oven.

8. At least 10 minutes before the bake, preheat your oven to 200°C (392°F) along with baking pan that you put on the lower rack.

9. When ready, place the baking dish into oven, throw ice cubes on the baking pan and close the door. Bake the roll for 15 minutes at 200°C (392°F), 20 minutes at 180°C (356°F) and for another hour at 160°C (320°F). The top crust should be brown, but most importantly make sure the bottom is also baked. This time my oven played tricks on me, so I had to take the roll out of the baking dish after one hour and bake it on a baking pan afterwards.

Sourdough walnut roll

10. When baked, let it cool for at least an hour, then slice it and serve it with warm milk or tea. The crumb should be soft and airy with small bubbles. 

Sourdough walnut roll

By Natasha Krajnc

Hi! My name is Natasha and I'm specialized in home sourdough bread baking and currently based in Slovakia - a very small country in Central Europe. My bread baking story began in 2011 when I decided to give up commercial yeast. I felt tired all the time (especially after eating bread and other foods made with yeast), I wasn’t motivated to do anything, had trouble concentrating throughout the day, my abdomen was bloated and I was like a trumpet on steroids – basically, I was quite a wreck. I was a big bread lover (and still am) and having to stop eating bread was quite hard at that time but I felt I was on a right way to give my body a chance to heal itself.

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