Lake Bled, which is situated in northwest Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps, is one of Slovenia’s most picturesque natural wonders. The mineral-rich emerald green waters surround a small island with a baroque church and café specializing in the art of potica baking.
After a twisty ride up and over Vršič Pass, we reached the waterfront where we boarded a small, motorless, wooden boat called a pletna, rowed by a local. We admired the lake’s unmeasurable beauty and tranquility. Once we arrived at the island about 10 minutes later, we ascended 99 steps to the café to bake our very own poticas. A local woman taught us how to make the traditional Slovenian dessert by first showing us the steps in the process and then setting us free and helping out us when needed.
First, we each floured a space on the wooden table, took a pre-portioned piece of dough, and formed it into a rectangular shape. We then rolled it out thin with a rolling pin until the proper size and thickness was reached. Next, we took a few heaping spoonfuls of walnut filling and spread it evenly on the dough. Then, we sprinkled finely chopped walnuts on top and attempted to roll the dough and filling as perfectly as our instructor had.
Somehow, mine stayed together and ended up fitting inside the mold. But if the rolls were too long, the extra length was sliced off made into little potica cookies. Before placing the rolled dough inside the mold, we spread a generous amount of melted butter inside to prevent the potica from sticking. We then gently placed the dough into the mold and punched a few holes into it before it was put in the oven.
While we waited for our potica, each of us was offered a refreshing glass of elderflower water with a walnut and tarragon potica sample. The walnut version, which is the most common, was slightly sweet and seemed to be the favorite out of the two. The savory tarragon slice was a bit unusual, but good in its own way. Next, we then walked to the church, toured the interior, and we each rang the bell and made a silent wish. Before long, the church was swarming with tourists so we exited the building and walked near the water, admiring the lake’s beauty and hoping to spot a swan.
About an hour later, our miniature poticas were ready. They tasted incredibly delicious and paired perfectly with a latte, conveniently available at the café inside the store. Now that we each have our own mold, we can share this traditional dish with our family and friends. Maybe one of us will get around to baking every one of the 80 varieties!
Jolee Keplinger, a sophomore, is majoring in mass communication with a minor in sustainability. Her hobbies include blogging, cooking, and anything involving art. She’s known as a foodie so it’s no surprise that her cultural presentation topic is Slovene cuisine.