September is the month of pumpkin in Bulgaria and pumpkin cake experiments. Collected huge fruits will be one of the main parts of a daily diet till July: from sweet milk soup to baked pumpkin with meat. With this post, I share the insights about the most authentic Bulgarian curiosities related to the fruit: the museum devoted to pumpkins and the most known pumpkin cake in Bulgaria – tikvenik.
3 health benefits of pumpkin
Before you start cooking the pumpkin cake, first, learn about some unique nutritive values of pumpkin that boasts an impressive nutritional profile:
- Packed with vitamins to boost immunity: Particularly rich in vitamins A, C and E, pumpkin significantly strengthens the immune system and help to fight infections.
Pumpkin also contains the antioxidants alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin that protect the cells against damage by free radicals and lower the risk of cancer.
- Improve the eyesight and heart health: According to different studies, pumpkin is comprised of a special nutritional composition that can lower the risk of sight loss.
Additionally, being high in potassium and fibre, regular consumption of pumpkin lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of strokes – two risk factors for heart disease.
- Promote healthy skin: Carotenoids, other useful elements of pumpkin, act as a natural sunblock and help to protect skin cells against damage from harmful UV rays. Together vitamin C, carotenoids produce collagen, a special protein that keeps the skin strong and healthy.
The Museum of Pumpkin in Sevlievo
In terms of original cultural resources devoted to pumpkins in Bulgaria, the unique Museum of Pumpkin (Sevlievo), launched 10 years ago, presents a great source of learning about the role of this fruit in Bulgarian culture.
Interesting old photos of events dedicated to pumpkins for many decades, awards won in different competitions, pumpkin pie recipes and distinctive artworks are just some of the artefacts of the museum.
Additionally, every October Sevlievo hosts the Pumpkin festival, the major event devoted to the huge fruit in Bulgaria.
Although other Bulgarian cities usually organize their fairs, pumpkin growers never miss the celebrations in Sevlievo to learn about the recent innovations in growing pumpkins, buy the best seeds and participate in competitions for the biggest pumpkins.
Pumpkin cake: the authentic Bulgarian recipe
Tikvenik is one of the traditional symbols of Bulgarian cuisine. It is a delicious savory pie made of phyllo pastry sheets and pumpkin sometimes mixed with apples or walnuts. The original tikvenik is prepared with the homemade dough, but it is possible to buy it at the supermarket. In different varieties, the dessert is made for daily meals and holiday dinners almost all year.
Preparation time: 30 min
Cooking time: 40 min
500 gr flour
300 ml warm water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 medium-size pumpkin
2 green apples
100 gr minced walnuts
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Sift flour into a large flat bowl. Add warm water, salt, vinegar and oil, and knead a soft dough. Divide it into 5 balls and let them rest for 20 min.
2 Roll out each ball into a thin sheet of filo pastry.
3 Grate pumpkin and apples into a bowl. Put in walnuts and sugar and mix everything.
4 Dizzle some oil on sheets and distribute feeling. Roll each sheet with feeling and place them on a big pan into spirals connecting rolls.
5 Pre-heat oven to 180-200 and bake for about 40 min. Take it out and dust it with powdered sugar. Serve warm or cold.