Cheese and Potato Bread Cake from Mačov

I first heard about spravovník two years ago, when I was shooting Christmas wafers for the Winter Book at a country house in Mačov. It was one of the few abandoned houses in the village that had been turned into a museum of traditional folk culture. While I was documenting the wafer baking, we chatted with our hosts about other festive dishes. A few days later a recipe for spravovník landed in my inbox.

Spravovník is the local name for a savoury cheese and potato bread cake that is traditionally made at Christmas and Easter time. It uses two types of cheese: bryndza – a famed Slovak cheese made from sheep’s milk, and tvaroh – a cow’s milk cheese that is more frequently used in our sweet pastries.bryndza

In this recipe, bryndza cheese can be replaced by any soft sheep’s milk cheese. Tvaroh has a similar consistency to what is sold as cottage cheese in English-speaking countries. Although you can find cottage cheese in Slovak shops as well, we definitely prefer tvaroh in our traditional dishes.

As for the flour, the original recipe used Slovak semi-coarse flour, but you will see in the photos below that I mixed it with wholemeal flour, which gives the dough a nice rustic look and more texture.cheese and potato bread cake, feature photo

Cheese and Potato Bread Cake from Mačov

Serves 4 – 6

For the dough:

  • 250 g flour
  • 21 g fresh yeast*
  • about ¾ cup milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
*You can use dried or instant yeast if  the fresh one is not available in your country. Please note that 21 g fresh yeast = 7 g instant or dried.

For the topping:

  • 250 g bryndza cheese
  • 150 g tvaroh cheese
  • 250 g potatoes (about 3 medium-size)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium-size onion
  • 100 g butter

You will also need:

  • a baking tray (37x29cm∼15x11in)
  • margarine or oil for greasing


  1. Wash the potatoes with their skins on under running water. Put in a large enough cooking pot and cover with water. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil. Adjust the heat to let the potatoes simmer until they are tender, about 35 minutes. Put aside and let cool down.
  2. Take the cheeses out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Heat the milk in a heatproof mug until warm. Transfer a little of the milk to a glass, stir in a pinch of sugar and a pinch of flour. Crumble the yeast into the glass and stir gently to dissolve. Cover and put in a warm place. Depending on the room temperature, it will take 5 – 7 minutes for the yeast to ferment and rise to the brim of the glass.fermented yeast
  3. In the meantime, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Pour the oil in the flour and add the fermented yeast. Knead by hand, adding the rest of the milk, little by little, as you work all the ingredients into a smooth, semi-thick dough. Cover with a dishtowel and let stand in a warm place for an hour.
  4. Peel the cooked potatoes and grate them into a large, clean bowl. Peel and chop the onion. Put the butter in a pan and place over medium heat. When it has melted, throw in the chopped onion and sauté, stirring now and then, until the onion starts browning. Put aside.
  5. Transfer the cheeses to the grated potatoes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and break the egg into the mixture. Add the marjoram and mix well. Finally, add the sautéed onion together with the butter.cheese and potato topping
  6. Grease the baking tray. When the dough has dubbled in volume, dust your hands with flour and transfer it to the tray. Stretch the dough evenly all around the tray. Spoon the potato-cheese mixture on top and level with a spatula. Drizzle with some more melted butter, if you like.
  7. Put in the oven preheated to 200°C (392°F). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the cake turns golden on the surface. Take out of the oven and let cool down. Cut in squares or rectangles and serve immediately.

cheese and potato bread cake

If you happen to have leftovers, they will store well in the fridge for up to a week. You can either reheat them in a microwave, or simply serve cold as a snack.

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