Placinda – Flaky Pumpkin Pie

A prominent Rabbi picks up an apple, pronounces the appropriate blessing, and bites into it. One of his students also picks up an apple, mutters a blessing, and takes a bite. Then he stops and asks:

“Rabbi, what is the difference between you and me eating an apple? We both say the same blessing, yet I can feel something emanating from you that I cannot define.”

“That, my son, is because you recite the blessing in order to eat, – says the Rabbi, – and I eat in order to have another chance to thank the A-mighty for offering me this beautiful, juicy, and sweet apple.”

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I am sure that tomorrow your tables will be disappearing beneath a multitude of traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Until we came to the U.S., this holiday had not been a part of our yearly celebration roster. It was my father, may he rest in peace, who made it our family tradition. Every year, we had to have a turkey with all the fixings, and my father would raise a glass in gratitude. He always concluded the holiday dinner by saying,” G-d bless America for taking us in!”

Six years ago, he was already too weak to go out and to come to my house for dinner, so I cooked the turkey (just the turkey breast, please click here) with my father’s favorite stuffing (please click here) and all the fixings (please click here), packed it all up and brought the entire Thanksgiving celebration to his apartment. Today, there is emptiness not only at the head of our table, but also in my heart, even though I am sure that my father is now in a better place. Still, when I serve Placinda for dessert, I will hear my father’s voice: “G-d bless America for taking us in!”

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Placinda, AKA Placinte, or, in German, Platchinda, is a flaky pie. It could be filled with anything you want, and its closest relative is Mediterranean Baklava, but this particular style, sometimes called Platschenta and filled with pumpkincomes from Bessarabian Platchta – blanket, and that’s exactly what it looks like. Until we came to the U.S., it held no particular significance to us; we just loved it as a great dessert.

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Take a butternut squash, peel it, and dice it to about the size of a bean. I’ve seen people grating it, but then you know how it is, everybody’s grandmother has the original recipe! You should get about 3 –  3 1/2 cups of it.

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You’ll need a cup of brown sugar, some cinnamon, and a sprinkle of allspice. Add all this to your diced pumpkin and mix well. I do know how to make flaky dough, but Phyllo is so easily available!

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Oil a deep baking pan and start lining it with individual sheets of Phyllo, making sure they overhang the pan by a couple of inches (about 5 cm) on all sides. Double-line the bottom. Now you have to spread the filling gently – don’t break fragile Phyllo sheets! – but evenly and cover it with flaps.

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The blanket comes last, 2 – 3 more Phyllo sheets on top, and isn’t it pretty, misted with oil and sprinkled with sumac? Send it to the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes and go do something else. I am sure you still have plenty of things to do!

Light, fluffy, creamy and crunchy at the same time, here is my father’s favorite Placinda – flaky pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for a wonderful father I had been blessed to have, to learn from and to love for many years. I am thankful for his kindness and his glowing smile, for his sense of humor and his sense of responsibility, for all the memories that will always be with me!


  • 1 butternut squash, finely diced (about 3 1/2 – 4 cups)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 8 – 10 Phyllo or other flaky dough sheets
  • A sprinkle of sumac


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Peel and dice squash into bean-size pieces. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice, mix well. Put aside.
  • Spray deep baking pan with oil. Line with Phyllo sheets, making sure they overhang on all sides by 2 inches (5 cm). Double-line bottom of pan.
  • Gently spread filling, cover with flaps, place 2 – 3 Phyllo sheets on top. Mist with oil, sprinkle sumac.
  • Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until light golden. Cool and cut in pan.

Happy Thanksgiving – enjoy!

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Bumba says:

    Placinda sounds like a tasty recipe to try. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!


  2. It’s so hard to miss those we love at the holidays. This is our second without my brother. May we all feel the comfort from above as we give thanks for the blessings we have.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A heartfelt story of the connotations for you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Derrick.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gail says:

    Deliciousness. 😋🍂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, darling! 🦃😻

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lulu: “Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃”
    Java Bean: “We hope you have plenty of stuff to gobble-gobble!”
    Charlee: “Hmm, we have not one but TWO butternut squash in the house right now …”
    Chaplin: “Hmm indeed!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, guys! Mama and The Boss stuffed themselves, but we did get extra treats – aha!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you! 🦃😻
      Tha Cat Gang


  6. Lakshmi Bhat says:

    I like reading your recipes . I try those which I feel I can. Baking is not something we do regularly. Though I like to try simple recipes. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, dear Lakshmi. I am so glad you like my recipes!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! These are the kind of pumpkins we are having here too. Not the round. xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are delicious – I love cooking and baking with them, Michael.


  8. A_Boleyn says:

    In Romanian, the name is ‘placinta’ and my mom would sometimes make this for us. We preferred the feta cheese or apple versions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose that’s how Moldavians / Bessarabians pronounced it, and that’s where we got it from. We do make a flaky apple pie, but we roll it like a strudel and call it “vertuta,” from Russian “vertet'” – to roll. I have never tried it with feta cheese, and I am tempted to try now. Thank you so much, dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. lghiggins says:

    I love hearing memories of your family and your customs. The Rabbi’s story is perfect for Thanksgiving Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, dear Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

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