Portokalopita is an old-fashioned Greek cake, made with phyllo pastry, Greek yogurt, and soaked in syrup once baked. Whereas Portokalopita refers to a pie it is in fact a denser cake. Portokali in Greek means orange while Pita means pie.
This Greek Orange Cake has been one of Greeks' favorite desserts for "tratarisma" aka treating a house guest. And having lived up to its name it is still served in most Greek restaurants as a treat on the house, after the main dish. So yes, if you have ever been to Greece and you got a dessert at the end of your dinner this was probably it.
And the reasons for Portokalopita being the number one preference as a treat, are:
- It's easy to make.
- Portokalopita may be one of THE BEST things to serve with a cup of Greek coffee because of its delicious orange flavor.
- The citrus flavor and the syrup make it a truly refreshing sweet treat to end each and every meal!
How To Make Portokalopita
First, you prepare the syrup which has to be at room temperature when poured on the cake. To make it, add the sugar, honey, and cinnamon stick to a cooking pot. Then squeeze two oranges and weigh their juice. Add as much water as needed so both the orange juice and water weigh together 550 grams.
It is important to be precise with measurements when making syrup. So it will get to the right consistency and get properly absorbed by the dessert. This is why you need to weigh the liquid in this recipe.
Put the pot on your stovetop and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes. No need to stir the syrup just shake the pot a bit if needed. Once the sugar has dissolved completely and the liquid in the pot has a nice syrupy consistency, remove from heat and set aside while you make the cake.
Preparing The Phyllo For Portokalopita
To make this cake, the phyllo has to be cut and air-dried. Some people do this by letting the phyllo uncovered at room temperature for some time. While others (including me and this recipe) prefer to do this in a low-heated oven to both speed up the process, as well as make the phyllo even more crispy.
So to prepare the phyllo for Portokalopita, cut it into small 1-inch pieces 2,5 cm. It doesn't matter if they are even shaped as long as their small enough. You won't be able to tell once mixed into the cake batter. Place in a big pan and try to separate most phyllo pieces from each other. Bake for about 45 minutes at a low temperature of 150°C / 302°F.
Every 15 minutes of baking remove the pan from the oven and toss and flip the phyllo pieces with your hands to help them dry evenly all over.
Once you're done with the phyllo, take a big mixing bowl and combine the remaining ingredients using a hand whisk. No need to use an electric mixer for this.
Then gradually add handfuls of the crispy phyllo into the bowl stirring well each time with a large spoon to help combine the phyllo with the cake mixture. Once all the phyllo has been incorporated, transfer the mixture into an oil-greased pan and bake until deep golden on top. Then pour the syrup over the cake right as it comes out of the oven.
Before refrigerating you have to let the cake reach room temperature first. Just like with any other syrup-soaked cake or dessert. Refrigerating hot syrup may lead to the syrup getting crystallized.
SERVE WITH ⬇
You can either simply add a drizzle of raw honey on top, along with some ground cinnamon. Or even a scoop of Greek yogurt to make it even more refreshing. Some even serve Portokalopita with a scoop of ice cream on top and that's also a yes yes!
Portokalopita - Greek Orange Pie
For The Orange Pie:
- 1 pack phyllo dough (450 grams / 16 oz)
- 5 large eggs
- 300 grams / 10.6 oz Greek yogurt
- 100 grams / 3.5 oz sugar
- 250 ml corn oil
- 2 oranges zested
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For The Syrup:
- 450 grams / 15.9 oz sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 oranges juiced
- 1 cinnamon stick
For The Syrup:
- Before you start making the pie you will have to prepare the syrup. So it will be at room temperature once the pie is baked and you'll drizzle it on top.
- In a cooking pot add the sugar, honey, and cinnamon stick.
- Weigh the orange juice and add as much water as needed until both the orange juice and water weigh 550 grams / 19.4 oz. Add to the pot with the remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes until sugar dissolves and it gets a syrup consistency. Set aside to cool.
For The Orange Pie:
- Preheat oven to 150°C / 302°F.
- Cut all of the phyllo into 2,5 cm / 1-inch pieces.
- Add in a 26 x 36 / 11 x 15-inch pan. Try to separate most pieces from each other.
- Place pan in the oven and cook the phyllo for 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes toss and flip the phyllo pieces so they will dry evenly. This is done in order to dry the phyllo. Once it has dried and gotten really crispy and flaky remove it from the oven.
- Raise the oven's temperature to 170°C / 338°F.
- In a mixing bowl add the eggs, and sugar, and blend with a hand whisk until lightly foamy. Whisk in the yogurt and then add the corn oil. Mix in the orange zest, vanilla extract, and baking soda as well.
- Stir in handfuls of the phyllo at a time while stirring well with a spoon. Once all of the phyllo is incorporated, grease the same pan you used for the phyllo with some oil.
- Spread the batter in the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until it gets a nice golden brownish color on top. Prick with a knife to see if it comes out clean.
- Pour the cool syrup over the hot pie using a ladle, and by adding spoonfuls at a time.
- Let the pie reach room temperature before refrigerating. You can serve it both at room temperature or cool from the fridge.
- You may also serve the orange pie with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and some ground cinnamon on top.
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