Moldovan Sugar Beet and Walnut Pies

Moldovan Sugar Beet and Walnut Pies

Today I want to show you how to make one of my childhood desserts - sugar beet and walnut pies or swirls. It's very popular in the northern part of Moldova where sugar beet is grown (I even helped my parents to clean the beets in the field). My grandmother and mother would make these rolls, or "învârtite" as they are called in Moldovan, when they used to bake bread in the wood-fired oven, which means they were made from the same dough.

I'd been looking for sugar beet seeds to plant in my garden specifically for these pies. In the spring, I found them at a seed store in the market, and last month we pulled out the first beets and were able to enjoy these pies.

If you ever have the opportunity to taste or prepare them, don't hesitate. They are delicious, with the specific aroma of caramelized sugar and roasted nuts.


Sugar beet
4 pieces
Chopped Nuts
1 cup
Sunflower oil
100 ml
White flour
400 g
Warm water
250 ml
1 tbsp
plus a little more sugar for the filling, if you like it sweeter
0.5 tsp
Active dry yeast
1 tsp

Step by step


In case you didn't know, this is what a sugar beet looks like.

I grew it in my own garden, with seeds found in a store in the market, from a brand called Agrosem. The planting and harvesting cycle is about the same as for red beet, only that sugar beet is harvested only in autumn.


Peel and wash the beetroot bulbs, then pass through a medium grater.


In a deep pot or pan, heat 50ml of oil, add in the beets.

Cook over medium heat, stirring periodically.


The process takes quite a long time. Beets are ready only when they are caramelized and change color. You must be patient. Make sure you brown the beets properly, otherwise the pies will taste strongly like beets and not like caramel.


Then add the walnuts, cook everything together for another 10 minutes.

Taste. You may need to add more sugar, if there's a large amount of walnuts or the beets weren't very sweet.


Allow this filling to cool down properly. In the meantime, prepare the pastry.


Make a classic dough with yeast, like the one for homemade bread:

- put dry yeast, one tablespoon of sugar and one glass of flour in warm water, let sit for 10 minutes;

- then, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil, 0.5 teaspoon of salt, the remaing flour and knead into a smooth and non-sticky dough, even rather hard;

- leave it for 30-60 minutes to rest and rise.


After this time, cut the pastry into pieces about the size of a fist.


Shape into balls and let rest for 10 minutes on the table, covered with a towel.


With a rolling pin, spread each ball into a 3-4mm thick round. Brush each one with a little oil and let rest for 5 minutes.


Take each sheet of dough and spread out with your hands on the table (pulling carefully with your fingers in all directions) into a very thin and long rectangle.


Spread the filling over 2/3 of the sheet, as generously as possible, do not skimp. Roll up.


My logs were too long, so I cut them with a knife to fit in the baking sheet.


As you shape them, arrange in the oven sheet, lined with baking paper (optional).

Place in the preheated oven to 200 degrees C for about 45-50 minutes.


When they are done and nicely browned, remove from the oven. Now, while they are still hot, brush with a little sunflower oil on top. This will help the crust soften after cooling.


Cover the pies with a towel and let cool completely. This is when they taste best.

Then slice and savor. They are very delicious, maybe because they taste like home ...


Quantity: 2 kg (a large baking tray)
Prep time: 90 min
Difficulty: intermediate
Ready in: 90 min
Publish date:
Collections: Pies, Desserts

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MamaK 02 Oct 2022, 18:48

Are these black walnuts, the kind with the darker flavor? To me black walnuts are only good mixed with sweets. Regular walnuts can be eaten on their own.
I have sugar beets. I am just wondering what kind of walnuts.

Elena (lena) 03 Oct 2022, 12:16

These are regular walnuts, we don’t have black walnuts here.😉