www.marissa.co Pumpkin Pie Kolokythopites

Pumpkin Pies Kolokythopites

Koloythopites are pumpkin pies like no other that you would have tried, a thin home made pastry – quite crispy yet short and crumbly – encases chopped butternut or pumpkin, bulgar wheat, sultanas and a hint of cinnamon. They are totally vegan and a delicious example of how simple ingredients can magically transform into a pie you will love and enjoy sharing with friends and family.

The quantity of oil seems high and you may get concerned that the dough is still very soft even after resting, there is no need to worry the dough is so easy to work with and rolls out into circles beautifully. You can use olive oil instead of sunflower oil, I used the latter as it is what was used by this aunt. The olive oil works too but for me sunflower oil makes a flavourless dough and allows the pumpkin to be the star of the show. The rolled rounds of pastry are filled with cubes of pumpkin that are cut, salted and strained over night to draw out the moisture. A little bulgar wheat is added, truth be told I did increase the quantity as I love it. It is added in raw to add substance and also to draw in any moisture within the pies as they are cooking. The raisins, cinnamon and sugar add a hint of sweetness and that combination always marries well with pumpkin. In South Africa many people that roast pumpkin for Sunday lunch will always sprinkle cinnamon and sugar onto of the pumpkin or butternut as it is roasting in the oven.

My younger teenage years centred around inter-generational gatherings with my Yiayia (granny) and her friends, their children (who were my mum’s generation) and then us the grandchildren. Many a Saturday would be spent gathered at friends’ houses for tea at 4pm, pump pots (urns filled with hot water) tea and coffee set out as if you were at a conference and a table ladened with home made treats brought by each guest. Almost like a pot luck afternoon tea, with guest bringing a plate or the dish they were known for.  Each of my Yiayia’s friends were known for their speciality, for some it was one dish that they had mastered, like these pies were Thia Laura’s speciality, my Yiayia was known for her baklava, creme caramel and her chocolate cake. You would wait to be invited and enjoy the labour of love, that that hostess was known for.

Sometimes it is difficult to find the time for some of these traditional specialities, not that they are complicated but it just requires advance planning. I started these on Saturday night and made them on a Sunday. It was my intention to start them on a Friday night and make them on the Saturday, however, I woke and forgot that you had to salt the butternut the day before!

These pumpkin pies are vegan and tasty neither sweet nor savoury. We are loving Corinth raisins they are very sweet, very small and flavoursome. I order them from a wonderful shop in Borough Market called Oliveology (I love their name) and recently Ocado are selling them too. Oliveology have all the ingredients you usually pack into your suitcase when you come back from Greece or Cyprus. They deliver nationwide and have kept us in honeys, spices, chamomile tea, dried Cretan rusks and so much more. We are blessed in the UK with our online provision. I digress, my Yiayia would not like that I have used black raisins, they should be golden sultanas, her rational and wait for it was… ‘I don’t like them they look like dead flies, the golden sultanas look nicer’. I had and used the Corinth raisins and they were lovely, sometimes you just have to block out the chatter of the old fashioned critic that rattles through your brain and use what you have. Although I did share the story with my family as we ate them.

These Pumpkin Pies are eaten over our Orthodox Easter which requires you to observe a vegan diet. Some of our friends and family would observe the full 40 days (49 to be precise) so when we were invited to a tea at theirs, there would always be a few vegan options on the table. Not bad for the mid 1980’s! The vegan options were usually an olive bread/muffins, a Ravani (vegan semolina cake) or Halva and if we were at this aunt’s house Koloythopites.

Don’t forget to start the recipe the day before, drawing out the water from the raw pumpkin and remember that the pastry needs to rest for two hours before being rolled.

There may be left over filling, I had just over a cup (due to the butternuts being different sizes)  so I filled shop bought pastry round, as I didn’t have time to make another batch of dough. You could also cook the filling in the microwave and once the pumpkin and bulgar wheat are cooked you could add this to an omelette or toss the mixture through summer salad leaves.


Pumpkin Pies Kolokythopites
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
This recipe needs to be started the day before you intend to serve the pies. A homemade vegan pie that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Crispy pastry engulfing a filling of cinnamon spiced pumpkin, raisins and bulgar wheat.
Recipe type: Mains
Cuisine: Greek Cypriot
Servings: 25
  • 3 cups pumpkin, chopped Into small pieces 5mm
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup coarse bulgur wheat
  • 1 large onion chopped finely and cooked until translucent in olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ -1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 60g raisins
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sunflower olí
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup warm water
  1. Start with the pumpkin the night before.
  2. Place the cubes in a strainer, and salt as if you were going to eat the pumpkin.
  3. Mix the pumpkin with you hands to make sure that all the pieces have been salted.
  4. Pop a soup bowl under the strainer, this will draw out the excess water.
  5. The next day pour away the butternut juices.
  6. Some people mix all the filling ingredients together and use the juices to plump up the bulgar wheat. My aunt never did she drained the juices away over night so that is how I made mine.
  7. Dough
  8. Start with the dough this needs to rest for two hours.
  9. I made the dough in a food processor.
  10. Add the flour into the food processor with the motor running add the oil until you get a crumb like mixture. Be careful not to process too far otherwise you will make an oil and flour paste.
  11. Add the lemon juice, salt and slowly incorporate the water into the flour with the motor of the food processor going.
  12. Process on a low speed until the dough comes away from the sides and forms a solid sausage.
  13. Roll the dough into a sausage shape and cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  14. Filling
  15. When the dough has the last hour to go, lift the pumpkin out of the sieve and add it into a bowl with the balance of the filling ingredients. Cover and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  16. Assembly
  17. Portion out the dough into 25 pieces, I mark the log with a knife and cut through each piece.
  18. Roll the piece in your hand to made a ball.
  19. On a floured surface roll out circles, you can roll a sheet and cut circles with a plate. I found the dough so easy to work with that that wasn't needed.
  20. Add enough filling to allow the pastry to close in a half moon shape, generous but not too full to make the mixture ooze out.
  21. Firstly press the edges together and then in a crimping motion using your pinky and thumb, pinch the dough with your pinky and tuck over using your thumb.
  22. Place onto a silicone lined tray or grease proof paper and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or until the pies are a light cappuccino colour.
  23. Eat and enjoy them straight from the oven or serve cold at a picnic.
  24. They do reheat well and if you choose to freeze them you can do this by layering the pies uncooked or cooked between grease proof paper. The dough will stick together if you freeze them without layering them between greaseproof paper.
Pumpkin Selection
You are looking for cubes of flesh that hold their shape.
You could use a white Cinderella style pumpkin or as I did a butternut.
To freeze
Make the pies and open freeze, I did this by removing a freezer draw lining the base of the shelf with grease proof paper and popping the pies (not touching each other) in the freezer over night.
The next day I stored them between grease proof paper in a plastic bag or tub.
The pies can be cooked and frozen. Most of my aunts freeze them this way and sprinkle a little water over the top to reheat at 180 degree.
Either method works.
Enjoy these pies, although they straddle a day in preparation they are easy to make and if you have freezer space you can easily double the recipe.

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