Kremena’s Bulgarian Baked Goods
I was delighted to see Kremena Stefanova’s familiar face recently at the Four Mile Run Farmers’ and Artisans Market. Kremena is a parent at my daughter’s elementary school and has started selling her baked goods at the market, all recipes she learned from her mother and grandmother in her childhood home in Bulgaria.
That day, I went home with the most divine apple strudel you can imagine, with an unexpected, lingering almond flavor I had never tasted before in an apple strudel. Kremena told me she used her Grandmother’s method, learned by heart as a child in her home town of Veliko Tarnovo (the historical section here pictured in winter).
Kremena recalls how, “growing up in Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain, families had to make their own food using seasonal ingredients. You can do wonders with as little as five ingredients.” She showed me this photo of her home in the countryside where she says she learned to grow vegetables in the family garden, to raise animals, and to pickle and preserve fruits and vegetables.
Kremena moved to the U.S. in her early 20s. She met her husband here and they are raising their family in Alexandria. When she started cooking for her kids, she says she wanted to make good, nutritious food, and soon decided to try making a go of having her own small business selling scones, croissants, crisps, bread sticks, granola, and strudels.
Kremena starts preparing for the Sunday market every Friday in her home. She bakes her yeast bread in covered clay pots to keep the inside moist and the crust nice and crispy.
Eventually, Kremena would like to make savory items, such as a traditional feta and egg pie, or banitsa as it’s called in Bulgaria, but she needs to use a commercial kitchen to cook with cheese and eggs. This is one of the layered pies she makes, often filled with pumpkin, perhaps with feta.
It’s great that the farmers’ market can give small business owners a start, like Kremena, who clearly loves food and has amazing baking skills.
I look forward to the day when Kremena can make her savory dishes, but for now, am quite content with the baked goods she’s selling every week. You can find her at the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market every Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. But get there early for the best choices of her Savory ‘n Sweet baked goods!