Portokalopita

By Helen and Billie Bitzas
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A Greek syrup cake made with phyllo and infused with orange flavour. Courtesy of Mia Kouppa

SERVES
14

Ingredients

Syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) water
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water optional

Cake

  • 450 grams Phyllo sheets
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • Zest from two oranges
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
  • Vegetable oil for greasing baking pan

Directions

TIP: If you can, buy fresh phyllo sheets; however, if frozen is all you can find, go for it.  Simply defrost your phyllo in the fridge overnight.  Be sure to defrost the phyllo in the refrigerator as doing so on the counter will result in soggy phyllo sheets. 

Syrup 

  1. Combine the water, sugar, orange juice, the cinnamon stick and the orange blossom water, if you are using it.  
  2. Bring the ingredients to a boil;  once it starts boiling, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Set aside for cake. 

Cake 

  1. While the syrup is being prepared, you must dry out the phyllo. Preheat your oven to 200° F.
  2. Open up your phyllo sheets, and one by one, scrunch them up, starting from the short side. After scrunching a sheet, place it on a baking pan and continue until you have used the entire pack of phyllo. You will need two baking sheets to accommodate all of your phyllo.
  3. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes have passed, flip each phyllo sheet over and bake for an additional eight minutes. Remove from the oven, and let sit for at least another 20 to 30 minutes, to further dry out the phyllo.
  4. With your hands, start tearing the phyllo into small pieces, and set them aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. 
  6. In the large mixing bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs and the sugar and beat for three to four minutes, until it is a pale yellow colour.  Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer.
  7. Add the orange zest, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and mix until just combined.
  8. Add oil and the orange juice to the bowl, and mix to combine well with the rest of the ingredients
  9. Using a rubber spatula begin to incorporate your dried-out and torn phyllo into the cake batter, a little bit at a time. If you put all the pieces in at once, they will clump together.
  10. After you have incorporated all of your phyllo into the batter, pour the mixture into a greased baking pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the middle rack of your oven until your portokalopita is a nice golden colour. 

Serve 

  1. Once your portokalopita is baked remove it from the oven and immediately pierce it in several places with a long clean skewer.
  2. Pour your cooled syrup onto the hot cake, one ladle at a time. Allow each ladle to be absorbed into the cake before adding the next one.  Repeat until all of the syrup has been used.
  3. Let your cake cool before cutting, to allow the syrup to be fully absorbed.
  4. Serve alone or with some vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt on the side. Any leftovers should be refrigerated.  You can then either heat the cake up prior to eating it, or serve it cold or at room temperature. Enjoy! 

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