Portokalopita is a treat commonly offered to you when you are visiting someone’s home in Greece.
Greece has produced citrus fruits for thousands of years. According to mythology, the Greek goddess Hera had an orchard in Hesperia, known as the Garden of Hesperides. The fruits grown there were the famous ‘golden apples’ – identified as oranges by some scholars – which granted immortality to those who ate them. While the folklore surrounding oranges may be less common-place today, their use in Greek cuisine is still fairly popular.
Portokalopita technically means orange pie however it is more like an orange phyllo cake. It’s dough is made with shreds of phyllo strips with a vanilla orange custard and it is soaked in an orange syrup.
Orange is used in every layer of this dish from the vanilla custard through to the orange syrup-soaked phyllo strips
Soft, bouncy and custardy, the texture of this unique dessert is unlike anything found in most other European desserts and full of deliciously sweet orange-y flavour.
Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα) – Traditional Greek Orange Syrup Cake Recipe
For the cake:
200g yoghurt (2% fat)
300 ml vegetable oil
300 ml (1 and ¼ cup) sugar
300 ml orange juice
20 g (4 tsp) baking powder
Zest of 1 ½ oranges
1 tsp vanilla extract
440 – 450 g phyllo dough
4 medium sized eggs
For the syrup:
400 ml water
400 ml (1 and 2/3 cup) sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Leave phyllo unwrapped at room temperature for 20 minutes to ensure that they are completely dry
Start by making the syrup. Pour water, sugar, orange zest into a pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup has thickened. Set aside to cool.
Next make the orange cake mix. Pour vegetable oil, sugar, eggs into large bowl and whisk.
Add yoghurt, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla extract and whisk.
Add baking powder and whisk lightly.
Slice phyllo into small pieces. Add gradually into the mixture while whisking so that they don’t stick together.
Bake in an oiled 20 x 30 cm cake tin at 180C/ 350F for 40-50 minutes.
Pour cold syrup slowly over the hot cake.
Allow time for the syrup to be absorbed and chill before serving.