Nut roll

Nut roll
Orahnjača variation of nut roll
Alternative names Many – see text
Type Pastry
Place of origin Varied – Central Europe
Main ingredients Sweet yeast dough, ground nuts
Cookbook: Nut roll  Media: Nut roll

A nut roll is a pastry consisting of a sweet yeast dough (usually using milk) that is rolled out very thin, spread with a nut paste made from ground nuts and a sweetener like honey, then rolled up into a log shape.[1] This 'log' is either left long and straight or is often bent into a horseshoe shape, egg washed, baked, and then sliced crosswise. Nut rolls resemble a jelly roll (Swiss roll) but usually with more layers of dough and filling, and resemble strudels but with fewer and less delicate dough layers. Fillings commonly have as their main ingredient ground walnuts or poppy seeds.

Nut rolls can be found in the United States and in Central European cuisines. In the United States, "nut roll" is a more or less generic name for pastries of this type, no matter where they originate.[2] Nut rolls are known also by many specific regional names, including: gubana, guban'ca, or potica in Slovene; orechovník in Slovak; makowiec in Polish; povitica, gibanica, orahnjača/orehnjača in Croatian and Serbian (walnut variant, makovnjača for variant with poppy seed, in Croatia can also be made with carob); kalács and bejgli in Hungarian; and pastiç (pastiche) or nokul in Turkish.

Regional variations on nut rolls are part of weddings, for Easter and Christmas, as well as other celebrations and holidays.

Preparation and design

A sweet yeast dough is rolled flat, about 0.2 inches (5 millimeters) thick, and a filling is spread on it. The filled dough is rolled up, forming a log or loaf shape, then baked. When sliced, the cross-section shows a swirl of filling.

Types or forms of nut roll are: rolled log, loaf made via a bread pan, and a "crazy loaf" style with a unique texture.[3] Similar ground walnut filling is used in Buchteln, a bun-shaped pastry, also with yeast dough.

Central Europe

Traditional nut rolls in Central and Eastern Europe, like makowiec and bejgli, are a special type of rolled log shape. These are generally made with either of two types of filling: walnut[4] and poppy seed. In addition to ground nut fillings, cinnamon, raisins or currants, bread crumbs, lemon zest, rum and heavy cream or sour cream are used.[3] The poppyseed versions are still popular in Russian-American neighborhoods in the USA.


The traditional nut bread served at Easter and Christmas in Slovenia and still very popular in some parts of the United States is called potica (/pˈttsə/)[5][6] It is a yeast dough rolled and stretched paper-thin and spread with a mixture of ground walnuts, butter, eggs, cream, and honey or sugar. It is then rolled jellyroll fashion and baked. Traditionally it was spiraled in a round pan, but now one is more likely to find it baked as a loaf.[5][7][8]

Another type of pastry also called poticas are baked in special round cake tins with a tube in the middle. These poticas are usually ring-shaped cakes. These pastries are not rolls, but a regional variant of Gugelhupf. There are at least fifty different kinds of these round poticas, differing in fillings. Traditional fillings consisted of walnuts, hazelnuts, honey, mint, curd, cream, cracklings, bacon or dried fruits. Today, the round poticas are often made with cocoa, chocolate or carob fillings.[9]


The povitica,[10] a traditional Croatian and Slovenian pastry, is made from buttery pastry dough rolled into very thin layers and covered with a layer of brown sugar, spices, and walnuts. The log-shaped loaf is then baked.[11] Povitica was featured as the technical challenge recipe on the "Advanced Dough" episode of The Great British Baking Show in 2014.[12] Other roll-shaped European pastries are filled with thick jam (called lekvar, usually apricot or cherry) called lekvarostekercs or Swiss roll.


Nut roll is also typical for northern Serbia (Vojvodina), where it is named "štrudla/штрудла" or "savijača/савијача". Serbian nut roll is usually covered with a layer of poppy, walnut or cherry, but sometimes can be with a layer of carob or cocoa.

United States

Nut rolls are popular across the United States, often made with some combination of walnut, poppy seed, apricot, and coffee,[13] with more traditional varieties and preparations made in areas with large Central European settlements. Nut rolls are an essential part of Christmas celebrations in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania as well as Joliet, Illinois. They were introduced there by Central European immigrants and widely adopted by other ethnic groups in the region. They are also popular in Youngstown, Ohio, northeastern Ohio (where it is known as kolachi), the Iron Range of Minnesota, Pueblo, Colorado, Kansas City and Butte, Montana (where it is known by the Slovenian name potica and the Croatian, regional Slovenian, and Serbian name povitica).[14] As such, povitica, as well as Cornish pasties, are considered one of the traditional state foods of Montana, regardless of ethnic group.

Cuisines where these pastries are found

See also


  1. Homemade Nut Rolls Archived November 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Nut rolls from source in Pennsylvania, of Serbian origin". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  3. 1 2 Potica takes Slovenian tradition on a roll Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. "Nut Roll". Immigration... The great American Potluck. Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 14 November 2004. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  5. 1 2 Official Slovenian recipe Archived March 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "POTICA, the traditional cake of Slovenia". Slovenia Incognita. 25 December 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  7. Fishwick, Carmen (24 May 2017). "Is it pizza? No, it's potica: the pope gives Melania Trump food for thought". Retrieved 25 May 2017 via The Guardian.
  8. Krystal, Becky; Krystal, Becky (24 May 2017). "The pope and Melania Trump had an awkward exchange about nut bread, and now we all want to try it". Retrieved 25 May 2017 via
  9. Slovenian Potica (Traditional Nut Roll) Archived March 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. Recipes from the Iron Range Archived February 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. Povitica picture Archived November 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. Popular Flavors Archived November 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "Potica". Pueblo, Colorado. City of Pueblo. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
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