PoviticaMan shares his scrumptious povitica straight from his personal artisan bakery.
Story by Judy Goppert | Photos courtesy of PoviticaMan
Little did Kevin Lutz know that time spent cracking walnuts with his great-grandmother on his mother’s side, Theresa Earnhardt Kramaric, as a child would lead him to become lovingly known as the PoviticaMan as an adult!
She was born in 1885 in Steinberg, Austria and fell in love with a Croatian soldier, Michael Kramaric She had learned to make povitica and other tasty, sweet dough treats from her own grandmother. They had three daughters before immigrating to the US through Ellis Island, which is documented in the historical record. The couple worked at Nuer Brothers Sausage at 39th and Bell and became friends with other Croatian and Austrian immigrants living in nearby KC, KS.
“I have vivid memories of going to a home on the West side in KC, KS, with my great-grandmother and the women sitting around the table chatting. ‘The Bread’ was their bond,” he mused. “Us kids cracked and shelled the English walnuts and Grandma would grind them with the old clamp-on table grinders!”
“I would watch my great-grandmother stretch the dough, and spread delicious fillings of fresh ground English walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, cream, and other ingredients.” He shared that she would say a prayer over her bread before she rolled up the loaves so it would rise properly and be a good bake. He added, “I write a special message in the filling with honey just before I roll that dough.”
His mother Donna Rose Fick, Theresa’s granddaughter, married Tom Lutz, and he loved the povitica and wanted to carry on that tradition. Tom also began handing out six-inch cordial-sized loaves to customers, which Kevin makes now.
“Having him teach me this art bonded me more with my dad,” he expressed.
Kevin worked with his father, and in 1993, his life changed after being struck by a car while riding his bicycle. His wife, Amy, was eight and a half months pregnant with their second child, daughter Alex, and they had a two-year-old son, Sam.
That next spring, his father died.
“My career as a plumber was over, and we needed to find another way to support our family, so we created K+A Sales, Kevin + Amy, and represent several decorative plumbing and hardware manufacturers and distributors.” He is nicknamed BathManKC.
This keeps him busy, but most weekends you can find him making dough and baking povitica in his home kitchen. It has become a passion for him. Pronounced po-va-TEET-sa, it is an Eastern European pastry.
He is truly one of the most giving, kind, and passionate bakers anyone could meet.
He explained, “Each loaf has seven good slices. There is nothing better than toasting them and putting butter, some even serve it with ice cream, strawberries and more. It is a sweet bread with English walnuts and a few other ingredients in it.”
He takes some personal requests. For example, his friend Kerry Browne once asked if he could put Irish cream in the bread. It was so sweet you could really taste it and now he bakes that in for personal request orders.
“A friend of mine’s dad wanted chocolate, so I told him, ‘For you I will swirl chocolate in the mix!’ and that made him smile. However, the traditional English walnut is mainly what he bakes.
His son helps him at times, and his wife makes those little white baker’s boxes for the loaves.
“People ask me how to make it, and I’ve had a few friends come over and I’ve tried to teach them how to roll the dough. I’ve done it so much it comes easy,” he confirmed. “You have to be patient, let it sit, then stretch until it is as thin as a newspaper page. and you can see through it.”
His son and daughter are big social media people, so they helped him get the word out. His daughter, Alex Lutz, @AroseLutz is a hair stylist in Beverly Hills. His son, Sam @SamShazam is director and producer for the Royals and a freelance photographer with the Chiefs.
“My kids are a blast! A friend of our son’s did my logo, and helped us create t-shirts, business cards, labels and such. It’s a fun thing and I’m very happy to share,” he said. “Our friends at Browne’s Irish Market invited us to do some pop-ups at Irish fairs and music events at the store. We also had an opportunity through the Made In KC stores in the holiday season of 2019 offering tastes and selling. This exposed us to even more folks!”
For many, this is a traditional staple on their holiday table. Every mouthful is enriched with the history of the hands centuries ago who kneaded and baked this delicacy.