A pumpkin pie in phyllo dough, crispy on top, melting on the inside and slightly sweet, just as it should be. This little delicacy is called bundevara and comes straight from Serbia.
What is bundevara?
Bundevara is a kind of pie, rolled and baked, made with grated pumpkin pulp, phyllo dough, a little sugar and cinnamon.
It is a light and tasty dessert, which melts in the mouth. Depending on the recipe, it may also contain raisins, nuts, lemon zest and nutmeg.
The taste of pumpkin, the star of this recipe, is subtly enhanced by sugar and a hint of cinnamon. For those who don’t like desserts that are too sweet, the bundevara is there for you.
Even if it can be enjoyed with pleasure all year round, the presence of pumpkin and cinnamon spices make it a rather autumnal and comforting dessert.
What is the origin of bundevara?
There is little known information on the exact origins of bundevara. What we know is that this dessert is a Serbian delicacy, and more specifically from the province of Vojvodina, in the north of the country.
The name bundevara literally means “pumpkin” in Serbian.
Plentiful and exquisite, Serbian cuisine is the result of a complex blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. In particular, it has its roots in countries such as Turkey, Greece and Hungary.
Very fond of sweet dishes, Serbians are particularly attached to their confectionery and pastry recipes. Typical desserts such as bundevara thus take an important place in their culinary traditions.
Phyllo dough in Balkan cuisine
Phyllo dough (which can also be written filo dough) is a product widely used in Balkan and Mediterranean cuisine, both for sweet and savory dishes. Coming from the ancient Greek phyllon meaning “leaf”, this extremely thin puff pastry brings a lot of lightness compared to other kinds of dough.
The phyllo dough consists of basic ingredients: flour, butter, salt and water. However, making it can be a little tricky, which is why many people prefer to buy it ready-made.
How is the bundevara prepared?
Bundevara comes in the form of several fairly thin rolls, topped with a pumpkin and sugar mixture and sprinkled with icing sugar once baked.
Making the dessert, although it might seem quite simple, requires knowing two or three little tricks to make it perfect.
First of all, know that it is better to use fresh pumpkin or squash for a more authentic taste. It must be finely grated in order to distribute it evenly over the circles of dough. Also be careful not to put too much filling so as not to soak the dough during baking. Finally, during the rolling phase, remember to hold the edges firmly: you will have nice, regular rolls.
What are the variants of the bundevara?
It is hard not to compare bundevara with the famous strudel, an Austrian dessert that is very popular throughout Central Europe. The fame of the well known apfelstrudel, or apple strudel, has spread far beyond the borders of Europe. Unlike bundevara, strudel is a whole cake, made as a giant roll and filled with a melting fruit filling.
In Bulgaria, tikvenik is a dessert similar in every way to bundevara, which can be topped with apple or pumpkin. This pastry is in fact the variant of another Bulgarian speciality called banitza (or banitsa), a puff pastry traditionally made with sirene, a typical cheese.
Lastly, bougatsa is a dish enjoyed in Greece, mainly at breakfast time. While there are almost as many versions of this delicacy as there are regions in Greece, the most popular bougatsa is the one filled with a delicious vanilla semolina cream.
The Balkan countries are known for their culinary culture rich in delicacies. If you are looking for a recipe to revisit your pumpkin pie in an original way, the bundevara is the perfect starting point.
- 18 phyllo dough sheets
- 3 lb pumpkin peeled and grated
- ½ cup oil
- 18 tablespoons caster sugar
- 6 teaspoons of cinnamon
- Sugar or icing sugar
- On a lightly oiled work surface, place a phyllo sheet, add a tablespoon of oil and spread it with a brush, then sprinkle the entire surface of the dough with a tablespoon of sugar.
- Place a second sheet on top and repeat the process with oil and sugar.
- Place the third sheet on top of the other two.
- Take ½ lb grated pumpkin, spread evenly, leaving about 5 inches of space on one side.
- Sprinkle the pumpkin with a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Roll the pumpkin-filled sheets starting from the empty side.
- Place the roll thus formed in a baking dish lined with parchment paper.
- Repeat the process with the other sheets to obtain 6 rolls.
- Brush all the rolls with oil.
- Preheat a convection oven to 350 F (or traditional oven to 380 F)
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove the rolls from the oven, cover them with a damp cotton cloth and let cool.
- Slice the rolls, sprinkle with sugar or icing sugar and serve.