Moldovan Walnut Vertuta

Vertuta is a delicious traditional Moldovan pastry (very common and popular in Romania and parts of Ukraine as well) that can be baked into a sweet or savory pie. When sweet, the pastry very much resembles a typical Slovak hand-pulled strudel and when prepared savory a delicious Greek spanakopita. A base for Vertuta is a paper-thin dough that can be either rolled out or even manually stretched until very thin

The dough for Vertuta is most often made from just three basic ingredients (flour-water-oil) that are usually combined in the ratios 10:5:1. Sometimes there’s an egg added to the dough as well. Quick Vertuta can be made with a ready-made phyllo dough as well. Vertuta can be filled with a variety of sweet & savory fillings, the most typical sweet one being apple filling and savory one being traditional cheese called Tvaroh. The simplicity of the recipe and ingredients used is subtly speaking about the origins and the seasonality of the recipe. Flour, oil, eggs and apples were staples in the Balkan region (as well as in Eastern Europe) ever since and therefore simple “poor-men” recipes using those ingredients were prepared often, they became staple and survived generations. Because of the amazing creativity of the people (most often housewives), traditional pastries and desserts made oftentimes from the very same ingredients, used to look and taste differently

I tried to make Vertuta with several different doughs starting with a plain flour-water-oil dough, through egg-enriched dough all the way to phyllo but my favorite one is a hand-pulled dough I make for a traditional Strudel. The filling options for Vertuta are practically endless with the following being the most common & favorite:

  • Walnuts + Cinnamon + Sugar + Butter
  • Pistachios + Candid Orange + Sugar + Butter
  • Butter + Sugar
  • Rose Water + Walnut + Sugar
  • Apple + Sugar
  • Tvaroh (Quark) + Egg + Herbs + Salt
  • Tvaroh (Quark) + Egg + Spinach + Salt
  • Boiled Potatoes + Cheese + Dill + Salt

INGREDIENTS

One Strudel Dough or Ready-made Phyllo Dough

Filling

200g Walnuts, finely ground

80g Sugar, brown

5g Cinnamon

50g Butter, melted


METHOD

1. If making the dough from scratch (which I highly recommend) follow this Strudel-dough recipe. If using a ready-made strudel/ phyllo dough, simply thaw the dough at room temperature

2. Divide well-rested strudel dough into 6-8 pieces depending on how many layers you’d like to get. Roll out or stretch the first piece of the dough as thin as possible ideally see-through paper-thin (all step-by-step instructions & my tips and tricks are listed in the recipe). While you work on the first dough, have the remaining pieces covered

3. Once you rolled out/ stretched the first piece of the dough, brush it lightly with melted butter and sprinkle it with one eight or one-sixth of ground walnuts, sugar and cinnamon (depending on how many pieces you divided your dough). Roll out/ stretch the second piece of the dough and place it on the top of the first one, covering it all the way to the edges. Repeat the butter-walnuts-sugar-cinnamon filling. Roll out/ stretch the third piece of the dough and place it on top of the second dough covering it all the way to the edges. Repeat this process with all remaining pieces of the dough and the filling. (Note: this technique will create a multi-layered shorter & fatter Vertuta just like in the picture above. If you’d rather like longer & thinner pastry, don’t stack-up the dough on top of each other but fill, roll & twist each piece separately and shape it into a continuous spiral)

4. Once the last piece of the dough is on the top, roll the dough from one side all the way to another (just like when you’re rolling a strudel or babka dough). Once rolled, twist the dough the way you’d be twisting a wet towel that you want to squeeze out from the water. When twisted, lastly roll the dough into a spiral. Transfer Vertuta into a round baking pan lined with parchment and greased with butter, brush the top with remaining melted butter and bake at 360°F/ 180°C for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy warm with a cup of tea

Dobrú chuť,
Lenka

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