Recreate this Moldavian layered pie, then check out our boozy mincemeat pie, rum and almond fruit cake and more Christmas baking recipes.

Irina says: "This pie is endearingly named pelincile domnului, which means ‘swaddling blankets of baby Jesus’. Traditionally made on Christmas Eve in Moldavia, eastern Romania, it represents a custom to gather every ‘fruit of the earth’ on the table, such as grains and seeds that can sprout in the next season. Hemp was an important crop in the region, so it makes an appearance alongside honey and wheat. The ground seeds make a filling called julfa, which can also be used in other dishes as an alternative to soft dairy cheese. The usual number of layers is 12 but feel free to experiment with fewer layers while practising your technique."

Recipe extracted from Tava by Irina Georgescu (£27, Hardie Grant)


  • 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting


  • 250g pumpkin seeds
  • 250g hulled hemp seeds, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 125ml hemp milk, any non-dairy milk or water


  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • lemon, juiced and zested


  • STEP 1

    Combine the flour, 250ml of water and a pinch of salt in a bowl, and knead to a firm dough. Leave to rest at room temperature for 15 mins, then knead again and leave to rest for a further 15 mins.

  • STEP 2

    Set a large cast-iron (or non-stick) frying pan over a medium heat. Don’t add any oil.

  • STEP 3

    Divide the dough into 12 pieces, about 50g each. On a floured worksurface, roll and stretch one ball to a circle, 25cm in diameter (or as large as the pan). Keep dusting with a little flour underneath and on top of the dough, so you can roll and stretch it very thinly by hand. Lift and put in the hot pan (don’t worry if it loses its shape slightly) and cook for 3 mins, then flip and cook the other side for a further 3 mins – it needs to have the texture of a thin, dry biscuit. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, rolling and cooking one at a time. Stack them on a plate or a cooling rack.

  • STEP 4

    To make the filling, grind the pumpkin seeds to a powder in a food processor. Add the hemp seeds and blitz together. Add the honey, then gradually add the milk or water, with the motor at medium speed, until the mixture reaches a soft, spreadable consistency. Set aside.

  • STEP 5

    To make the syrup, bring all the ingredients and 450ml of water to the boil in a pan, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins until thickened. Pour into a large shallow dish, wide enough to fit one of the flatbreads inside.

  • STEP 6

    To assemble the pie, soak a flatbread in the syrup for 30 seconds, then put it on a dish or a plate with a deep lip. Spread the flatbread with a thin layer of the filling. Repeat with all the remaining flatbreads, leaving the top one plain. You can spoon a little of the remaining syrup on top. Wrap the dish or plate in clingfilm, then put a tray on top and weight it down with something heavy. This will ensure that the layers are pressed evenly (don’t worry if they crack). Leave for 24 hrs, then slice and serve. You can serve as it is or save a couple of tablespoons of the filling to serve with it.

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