I was told by my Serbian critics that my last recipe, for Silver Gumboots, was irrevocably anglicised. Not because of the name, or even the ingredients; it was the quantities.
Sad, London quantities: a true Balkan cook would have started: “Take one sack of potatoes, and shake the plum tree”. This recipe is therefore enough to make six, super-filling pastries.
The following is another Serbian sweet-treat. It is well suited to exactly this time of year – Halloween (as the ingredients include pumpkin and cinnamon) and bonfire night (the caramelised sugar has the flavour of bonfire toffee and toffee apples). It should be noted that Serbians will call this Bun-devvera. I however call it Bundy-Vara… which sounds somehow very camp.
Ingredients (Makes six):
One pack of six sheets filo pastry
600g grated pumpkin or squash
9 tblspn brown sugar
6 tsp semolina
For each pastry: take one sheet of filo pastry and brush with oil on both sides. Lay it out flat. Scatter on one side about 100g of grated pumpkin evenly, leaving about an inch free on the edges. Then sprinkle over about 1 ½ tablespoons of brown sugar, and a good dusting of cinnamon. Finally about a teaspoon of semolina to soak up any juices.
Fold the two shorter edges of free pastry over the top of the pumpkin mixture so it encloses it slightly. Now roll it up, carefully, from the long side, so you have a kind of very skinny swiss-roll shape. Then, gently wet the end of the pastry and seal the roll. Even more gently, coax the whole roll into a coil, like a snail’s shell (see photograph). Don’t worry too much if the pastry splits, but still try to wind it up as delicately as possible.
Do this again with the rest of the ingredients (five more times) and then slide the six completed pastries onto a baking sheet. Cook for about an hour at 180 degrees. They will be golden crispy on the outside, and caramelised gooey on the inside.
(For an alternative to pumpkin, bramley apple can be used.)
Serbian Sweets by Genevieve Jones