Saturday, December 29, 2012

Potica Pudding Muffins: A Festive Solution to Leftovers

How could someone end up with leftover potica?

Good question.

Potica, the famed Slovenian nut roll, is a delicacy.  In America, it is holiday food. So it goes fast.  It also keeps well, especially when it is enriched with sour cream and honey, like my family’s version. And you can always toast it, or give it a shot in the microwave, to revive it.

But sometimes the ends of a loaf really are dry. And sometimes, believe it or not, you can have a little too much potica on hand, when Christmas comes around.

Like when a helpful family member orders the commercial variety. It's good, but not like homemade.  So you freeze it.  But you don’t wrap it as well as you should.  So there you are, a year later, ready to make a new batch for Christmas.  And you discover half a loaf of potica, languishing in the freezer, suffering from freezer burn.  Your husband wants to throw it out.  Oh no.  A sacrilege.

That’s what happened at our house.

But I found the perfect solution to that leftover potica.  Bread pudding.

Why not? We were going to a holiday party-potluck and I needed to bring a dessert.

I love bread pudding. Some people consider it a homely dish and not suitable for entertaining. But I had discovered a number of recipes for individual bread puddings, sometimes called bread pudding muffins, that were festive enough for a party. Several of them were based on rich holiday breads, like coffee cake and Italian pannetone.

Potica would be a perfect subsitute, I thought.

After some adapting and combining, I created a new dish: potica pudding muffins.  Read on!

Potica Pudding Muffins

5-1/2 cups leftover potica, cut into small cubes
12 ounce can evaporated milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 T. rum
1-1/2 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
2-3 T. dried cranberries
3 eggs, beaten

Slice potica and cut into small cubes.  Place in a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients, except for eggs. Beat well to combine, then add to potica and stir well.   Let sit for an hour.  Taste and adjust sugar and seasonings.  Add beaten eggs and stir.  Let mixture sit in refrigerator for several hours before baking, if desired.

When ready to bake, arrange 12-14 cupcake liners in muffin tins or on a cookie sheet.  (I did it both ways.) Stir batter well before filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until just firm. Let cool and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.  Makes 12-14 individual servings.

The verdict?  Delicious!  Our visiting sons liked it, so I felt on solid ground when I took some to the party.

This recipe would work well with cinnamon bread or a fruit-filled holiday bread like pannetone.  It could be used with any leftover bread, for that matter.  With a plainer bread, you might want to increase the sugar and spices and use cream instead of milk. There are endless possibilities for making this dish more or less rich, for creating different flavors, and for adding nuts or dried fruits, or even chocolate. With a dish as rich as nut-filled potica, though, there is not much to add.

I just might make this for our New Year's Day party!

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