Just Frances

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 8th, 2010 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: youtube, words, recipes, olden days, mom, homeland, happy, giggles, friends, foster kid, food, family, dad, america

WooHoo! I made a trip to the homeland this weekend to make blagenda with my folks and one of my sisters. Her kids and my foster daughter got in on the action, too.

We used an old family recipe that was brought over from Ukraine when my family emigrated/immigrated* a couple of generations ago. I don’t know just how old the recipe is, but it’s certainly a traditional dish for people of ‘Germans from Russia’ heritage.

If you’re wondering, blagenda is essentially a pumpkin turn-over or tart. It’s a basic short pastry filled with grated pumpkin then it’s baked for a bit. Growing up, we always had it as a savoury even though some families would add sugar and cinnamon to make it a sweet dish. This year, we gave the sweet-side a try and made a few with cinnamon and sugar ourselves.

We made more than 260 of the little guys in total. That’s a lot of pastry rolling and my arms are very, very sore now, having been the main pastry-roller-outer. In fact, I was so busy rolling pastry that I didn’t end up touching any of the pumpkin prior to it being placed in the pastry shells. (The task of peeling, chopping, and shredding pumpkin went to Mom, Celeste, and the kids.)

The recipe we followed is one that my Great Aunt Mary wrote down—but who knows how many times it was copied before then. If you care to give it a go, here’s a copy of the recipe for you, edited for grammar and clarity because it’s what I do!


Pumpkin mixture:

  • 6 cups grated pumpkin
  • ½ cup grated or chopped onion
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Mix all together and let set ½ hour. It makes its own juice [NOTE: Juices should be drained before placed in pastry but save them and use them as a great soup base. Yum!]. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.


  • 6 cups flour
  • 1½ cup shortening
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar

Mix as you would a pie crust, adding milk as needed, and work well.  Roll out as you would pie crust and cut circles 3-6 inches wide. Place pumpkin mixture on half of pastry and flip the other half over to make a tart. [NOTE: For best results, use a bit of water to help seal the edges.] Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until a nice golden brown. [NOTE: We baked for about 25 minutes – the size of your tarts will impact cooking time.]

[Side note: I was asked to give proper UK measurements, too, but haven’t got the math done yet. I will try to update later in the week but if you really can’t wait, US to UK measurements can be found here: US cups to UK weights (dry ingredients) and US to UK liquid conversions.]

Check out the photo gallery here!

And—big surprise!—here are a couple of videos of the process for your enjoyment.

* Emigrate and immigrate have two different but similar meanings, if you didn’t know. Someone emigrates from a location and immigrates to a location. So, to use the terms in sentences: My maternal and paternal ancestors emigrated from Ukraine a couple of generations ago. And: My hope is to immigrate to Scotland in the next year.


All told, we actually had four pumpkins.  One pie, one regular jack-o-lantern, the Cinderella and the lovely pumpkin that Celeste found at the market.  The first two had harder rinds than the latter two and were quite hard to cut and peel.  Like you, I have sore arms because of it.  It was certainly worth it, though.  What a day!

by Mom at 4:38am (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

I just played all of your videos together and it sounded like I was having a party in my room… Made me smile!!!!

Anyways… can’t wait to try these!!!  Just a wee question though… do you keep the onions in if you make the blegendas sweet?

by Jo at 4:07pm (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

They look like little pasties :B

by joannamv at 4:50pm (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

Awesome, I’m so hungry now!

by Rebecca at 5:52pm (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

For the sweet ones we skipped the onion and pepper, and added more sugar and a bit of cinnamon. I suppose you could add all the normal pumpkin pie spices to give it some extra holiday flavour, too!

I’m glad the videos made you smile!!

by Just Frances at 9:15pm (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

I’m making soup with the left-over pumpkin I brought home. I’ll freeze some and bring it to you and dad in a couple of weeks!

by Just Frances at 9:16pm (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

That’s how I explained them to Paul. But they’re much nicer than a Gregg’s pastie, that’s for sure!

by Just Frances at 9:17pm (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

Me too! Should have brought one for my lunch today!

by Just Frances at 9:17pm (GMT) on November 8th, 2010

Pfft, Greggs doesn’t know what a true pasty is!

by joannamv at 6:02pm (GMT) on November 9th, 2010

Great recipe and your talent in describing the process!
Love cousin Gio 8-)

by George Deasy at 6:09pm (GMT) on August 8th, 2014

Glad you liked it, Gio! One of these days, we’ll have to have a massive family bladenda-making get together!! :)

by Just Frances at 10:50am (GMT) on August 20th, 2014

Glad to see that blagenda lives on. My mom made it lots when I was younger. I haven’t had them in almost 30 years. I have sisters that still make them, but I am never around when they do. (live in different cities) Cook on lady!!

by Arnold Senger at 5:55am (GMT) on November 20th, 2018

Hi, Arnold. It’s always nice to hear from others who’ve grown up with the same culinary traditions as I did! Bladenda is a favourite of mine, and I try to make it every couple of years. I live quite far from home now (6,000 miles!) so rarely enjoy big family cooking sessions, but I’ve found that I can make a small batch on my own for the freezer quite easily. Yummy!

by Just Frances at 3:35pm (GMT) on November 20th, 2018

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