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For those with a sweet tooth, Pueblo is home to a unique Slovenian dessert. Potica (pronounced po-TEET-za) is a culinary triumph. It is a hearty pastry made of sweet dough, rolled with a tasty walnut paste. This classic food is a Pueblo staple, and can be found year-round at Gagliano’s Italian Grocery and several other local establishments, including Pueblo’s largest potica producer, Mauro Farms.
Potica is a delicacy that can be found in only a few parts of the United States, but is prevalent throughout Europe. The traditional bread, also known as kolachi, povitica, orahnjaca, povanica, or simply “nut bread”, is known to exist only in Pueblo, Minnesota and Central Europe.
Even though every potica baker tells a different story of its origin and has a slightly different recipe, the concept of the bread is essentially the same. Potica is made by tediously rolling out a secret-ingredient dough to a translucent thickness, slathering on a filling of honeyed walnuts, rolling the whole thing up into a loaf and carefully baking it. Potica can be made in other ways that include cheese, poppy seeds, apples and raisins. The classic walnut potica is the local favorite.
The highly competitive, difficult art of potica baking is closely guarded by the grandmothers of Southeastern Colorado. Upon penalty of banishment to Central Wyoming, many Pueblo residents are sworn not to divulge any of the ingredients in their grandmothers’ recipes. Details are even sketchy from Judy Mauro, head baker of Mauro Farms’ impressive potica operation, where up to 600 loaves of the bread are churned out daily. She learned her recipe from her Czechoslovakian mother-in-law who began selling the bread in 1963. Mauro says that making potica is “just too hard for most people to make every year,” and that sales are steadily increasing as the popularity of the bread grows.
Regardless of whether you undertake the awesome task of baking your own potica or you purchase some loaves from local bakeries, potica is a must for every holiday season – and year-round.