Serbian Pumpkin Pie / Pita Bundevara
The cutest pumpkin delicacy – Serbian Pumpkin Pie / Pita Bundevara. Not an entirely Serbian dessert, but a Balkan inspired pastry with a strong influence from the Ottoman and Greek culture. Just imagine crunchy layers of phyllo dough with a sweet pumpkin filling between each layer, baked until golden brown and dusted with powdered sugar. Made with freshly grated pumpkin, cinnamon, and lots of sugar, you get a simple, yet delicious homemade delicacy. This is one of those desserts that makes your entire house smell divine! Serve it warm, or at room temperature, and dust with powdered sugar. The baked flaky pastry is the best! You will most likely be going back for more.
About this recipe
Pumpkin pies have a place in so many cultures, and inherently are made in many ways. This version of a sweet pumpkin pie has been a staple in Serbian households for generations, with recipes passed down from one person to another. Its roots can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, which left a significant mark on Balkan cuisine. Although thin pastry desserts can also be accredited to the Greek and Austro-Hungarian influence. Either way, the name “Pita Bundevara” itself reflects the Turkish influence, as “Pita” means pie, and “Bundevara” refers to pumpkin.
You can find a variation of Pita Bundevara across the entire Balkan region. Some variations for this recipe may use vanilla sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, dried fruit or walnuts.. For this recipe, you do not pre-cook the filling. Instead, the pumpkin is grated, coated in sugar and cinnamon. The sugar softens the pumpkin and lets out its natural juices. The phyllo pastry is then greased with butter and covered with the pumpkin filling. Rolled up into logs, brushed with more butter, the pastry is then baked until golden brown. In this similar way, other popular pies, such as the Sour Cherry & Filo Pastry Pie are made, as well as an equally easy version of apple pie. What can I say, we just love our phyllo pastry pies!
One of the key factors that make Pita Bundevara so special is its use of fresh, seasonal ingredients (especially the pumpkin).
The pumpkin is the heart and soul of Pita Bundevara. I recommend using a pumpkin with bright orange, dense and sweet flesh. Avoid pale looking pumpkins. As for the phyllo dough, unless you are an expert at making thin pastry, store-brought phyllo pastry does a perfect job! This recipe also uses a lot of sugar. This is a must so that the sweetness balances the natural earthiness of the pumpkin. Crystal or caster sugar works great! Using spice adds such great flavour. I love using cinnamon as this is how I have grown up eating Pita Bundevara. However, you can use nutmeg if you wish. Don’t fear the butter because it is used to brush the phyllo layers, enhancing their crispiness and adding a rich, buttery flavor.
Making Pita Bundevara
While Pita Bundevara may seem complex, it’s a dessert that anyone can make. Here’s a simplified step-by-step guide to preparing this Serbian pumpkin pie:
Prepare the Filling Peel and cut the pumpkin into chunky slices. Grate each slice and transfer to a large bowl. Then, combine it with sugar, cinnamon.
Layer the Phyllo Dough: Lay out 3 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each layer with melted butter. This creates the flaky, golden crust.
Add the Filling: Spread the pumpkin mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo, ensuring a generous and uniform filling.
Roll or Fold: Depending on your preference, you can either roll the phyllo into a log or fold it into triangles. Both methods yield delicious results.
Brush with butter: Lightly brush each roll or fold of your pastry with melted butter.
Bake to Perfection: Place your assembled pastries in the oven and bake until it’s golden brown (35-40 minutes). The aroma of cinnamon will fill your kitchen.
Serve: Once cooled, cut your Pita Bundevara into slices and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar. Enjoy with a cup of strong Serbian coffee, tea or a glass of sweet, spiced rakija.
Looking for more?
If you are looking for more ideas, try one of the recipes below:
With its warm flavors, crisp layers, and sweet pumpkin filling, this Serbian Pumpkin Pie / Pita Bundevara reminds me so much of home! I hope that you enjoy making it. Be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! If you have questions, you can find me over on Instagram or tag me with your photo. You can also find me over on TikTok.
|500g filo pastry|
|1kg pumpkin, peeled & grated|
|250g caster sugar|
|100g melted unsalted butter (for brushing)|
|50g powdered sugar (for dusting)|