Tikvenik is a coiled pumpkin strudel from Bulgaria, with crisp filo pastry encasing a gently sweet pumpkin filling, warmed with cinnamon. It has a wonderful flavor, and this pretty pastry is easier than it looks.
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It’s that time of year when pumpkin fills the shelves. I know not everyone is a fan, but I for one love playing around with it as an ingredient and discovering dishes from around the world that use it. This one was one delicious discovery.
I know filo (or phyllo) can be a little scary to some, but with a few pointers, as in my filo pastry post, it’s great for adding a wonderful crisp, light texture to dishes.
For some things, it’s best to make it from scratch to make sure it’s flexible, but ready-made works in many cases, including this tasty dessert.
What is tikvenik?
This pumpkin strudel is like a sweet version of a Bulgarian pastry called banitsa, which is made with a savory cheese filling.
You’ll find this sweet version particularly as a dessert for Christmas Eve, as well as fall/winter in general. The name comes from “tikva” meaning pumpkin.
Bundevara is a Serbian pumpkin pastry which is more or less the same as this as well. The main differences, from what I have worked out, is that with bundevara, you typically don’t pre-cook the filling and you don’t always coil it up.
I’ve drawn on a few recipes as I was making this, particularly this Viktoria’s Table recipe. I’ve made my version a bit smaller to suit our smaller family, and using less walnuts to have plenty of the pumpkin flavor, although you can adjust that to taste. Not all versions include walnuts, in any event.
Essentially, though, I have kept with the traditional blend of flavors and style of this pastry as it works so well.
When my husband first saw this his reaction was it looks fancy, and I agree, it does look pretty special. And while it can be slightly awkward making the tighter coil, it all comes together more easily than you might think, especially with the tips I have shared below.
Tips for making this pumpkin pastry
- As you soften the pumpkin, use a wide skillet so that you can gently remove any excess moisture. This saves the filling becoming too wet.
- As I mention in other recipes using filo pastry, have everything else ready before you get the pastry out. You want to expose the pastry to air as short a time as possible so it doesn’t become dry.
- I put the filling along the long edge to give a longer, thinner roll rather than shorter and fatter, but you can do either way. As you roll, don’t roll it being too tight against the filling (a little space is good – I could have had mine less tight).
- Coil up the pastry once you form it while the pastry is still soft, rather than trying to do it once it has become more brittle and cracks.
- Brush the top with butter before baking to help it become nicely golden.
Once the pastry has baked, give it a couple of minutes to cool before you dust it with sugar. You can either cut it up in the pan or take the whole thing out first. Just bear in mind it will be a bit delicate. It tends to come out easier after cooling more, so you may need to leave to cool longer.
This can be enjoyed warm or room temperature, as you prefer. It will keep a day or two but the pastry will go soft after the first day. You could, if you like, warm it in a low oven for a few minutes to help it crisp up again, though it probably won’t completely without drying the filling too much.
This Bulgarian pumpkin strudel is elegant and delicious. It’s a lovely way to enjoy those seasonal pumpkin flavors in a slightly different form. The sweet, spiced pumpkin filling and crisp, flaky pastry combination is so good. We will definitely be enjoying tikvenik in our house again soon – join us!
Try these other tasty international desserts:
- Tarta de Santiago (an easy Spanish almond cake)
- Swedish cheesecake (a little less sweet than NY style but incredibly tasty)
- German plum cake (pflaumenkuchen)
- Plus get more dessert recipes in the archives.
Tikvenik (Bulgarian pumpkin strudel)
For the filling
- 8 oz pumpkin 225g (peeled and de-seeded weight)
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp chopped walnuts or more to taste
For the pastry
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 4 sheets filo pastry
- 1/2 tbsp confectioner's sugar icing sugar, approx
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Lightly butter a small, 8in/20cm skillet/frying pan (7in/18cm also fine).
- Coarsely grate the peeled and de-seeded pumpkin. Warm the butter in a large skillet over a medium heat and add the pumpkin. Cook for a minute or two to soften, then add the sugar and cinnamon. Cook a minute or two more, stirring and spreading slightly so excess moisture can evaporate but the pumpkin keeps its form. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Melt the butter for the pastry in the microwave or over a gentle heat in a small pan. Place one sheet of pastry on a clean, dry work surface and brush it with butter. Place a second piece of pastry on top, matching the edges as best you can.
- Divide the pumpkin filling and the walnuts in two. Put one half of the pumpkin filling along one long edge of the pastry in a line, then put half of the walnuts either right next to the pumpkin or on top. Lightly brush the rest of the pastry that doesn't have filling on it with a little butter.
- Carefully roll the pastry from the edge near the filling to make a long, even log with the filling in the middle. Don't roll too tightly, a little space in there is fine to make it easier to coil. Then carefully pick up the roll and coil it from one end around itself inside the buttered skillet (see photos above).
- Repeat with the remaining pastry and fillings – brush one piece of pastry with butter, top with the other piece, put the pumpkin filling and walnuts along one edge and roll up. When you put this roll in the skillet, try to join the end of the previous coil with the end of this one so it makes one large coil.
- Brush the top of the coiled up pastry with butter then place in the oven for approximately 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the pastry is crisp.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes before dusting with powdered sugar/icing sugar. Serve warm or room temperature, cut in slices through the coils.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.
Sharing as part of #Pumpkinweek – see all the other pumpkin recipes being shared today:
- Hot Pumpkin Apple Cider by Palatable Pastime
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