A recipe for Pumpkin Walnut Baklava
Baklava is one of the hallmark dishes of Cretan heritage.
Originating in Ionian kitchens, it was adopted in every region of Ottoman rule and incorporated into each culture’s national cuisine because of its heavenly flavors and flaky, yet juicy, textures.
I cannot recall any family gathering without Yia Yia’s, Anthe (Stratigakis) Vutetakis, deliciously sweet and delectable baklava. She crafted her recipe while growing up in the village of Plakoures in western Crete and passed it onto her children and grandchildren. My aunt Irene Laggeris inherited her mother’s culinary aptitude and, as most talented cooks will do, added her own memorable touches to the original recipe.
My recipe takes inspiration from the original while using local ingredients and seasonal tastes. The authenticity is rooted in Greek tradition while paying homage to how so much in America is built upon, or influenced by, Greek foundations.
This dessert was first introduced to the public in 1997 when I was chef and owner of Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak, Michigan. It quickly became a favorite, especially in the Autumn when Michiganders share a collective passion for all desserts crafted with pumpkin, sweet spices and maple syrup.