Portokalopita - Greek Orange Phyllo Cake is a way to bring some Greek sunshine to these dark here winter days. Using the zest and juice from two oranges, this custard and pastry layered cake is the perfect thing to get you through.
Despite best efforts to find the origins of this cake, it seems no one wants to take ownership which is both sad and kind of beautiful in the fact that this is obviously embedded into Greece like the azure waters on the shoreline and the way dessert is always served at the end of a meal for free.
Greece is often one of those places people dream to visit due to the reputation it has for incredible beaches, food and overall scenery. It is a country that has a deep and rich history and as attested in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ “name any word and I’ll give you the Greek meaning”, is most definitely true when you’re there.
Greek people are proud of their heritage and this is clear when you’re on it’s shores which I finally made it to during a brief window to visit last year and you can see why, not just because of the impact their culture and language has had on the world, but also the scenery they have at hand and the food they consume. Where else on earth do you get dessert for free???
There have been many times since that the words “I miss Greece” have been uttered in our home and it still stands. It has a way of weaving it’s way into your heart and this cake is but one small way to go back and grab some of Greece into our home and I hope you do too, no matter where you may live, with this recipe.
Why you'll love this
Layers of pastry
The torn phyllo has time to slightly dry out which means it soaks up the orange custard filling and creates these beautiful layers of pastry.
Light orange flavor
The orange in the custard and syrup flavor the cake without overpowering it making for a perfect afternoon pick-me-up!
Ingredients for Portokalopita - Greek Orange Phyllo Cake
- Phyllo pastry: Thin layers of phyllo or filo pastry are torn and have time to dry out before soaking up all the liquid of this cake to create layers of beautiful light pastry between this orange custard.
- Oranges: The flavor bomb behind this cake with the zest flavoring the cake prior to baking and the juice being concentrated in the homemade syrup that gets poured over the cake. Medium Valencia or Naval oranges will work perfectly here.
- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is thicker than standard thanks to much of the whey being discarded, this helps to create a sturdy custard for the phyllo pastry to soak up.
- Eggs: The eggs help add the custard element in this cake, as well as giving structure and binding all the liquid together.
- Sugar: Superfine or caster sugar is best here as it adds sweetness without additional flavors for both the cake and the syrup and dissolves best due to the fine granuales.
- Sunflower oil: The oil helps bind the liquid custard to the phyllo as well as giving fat content to the cake to give it a tender texture with the flour in the pastry.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract acts as a flavor enhancer in the cake, without it we wouldn't have depth of flavor when we bite into the cake.
- Cinnamon stick: Like vanilla extract, cinnamon adds an earthy undertone to the syrup, giving dimension. If you don't have cinnamon sticks on hand, simply sub in ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, sifted into the syrup mixture so that flavor is well and truly combined and doesn't clump.
FAQ's for the best Portokalopita - Greek Orange Phyllo Cake
Would a springform cake tin work with this cake?
The amount of liquid in the unbaked batter will drip, so it is recommended to use a cake tin that is not springform here. If you only have springform cake tins, place onto a baking tray before pouring in your cake batter and this will help with clean up.
What size should my cake tin be?
This cake was baked in a 20cm or 8 inch cake tin or a medium cake tin with this creating quite a large cake.
How much do I reduce the syrup when making Portokalopita?
The instructions weren't clear on this, but we don't want the syrup to reduce too much otherwise there won't be enough to soak into the cake, you'll want the color to be slightly deeper than when you put it on the stovetop and it should be on a rolling simmer for at least 2 minutes for the sugar to dissolve and the syrup to have formed.
When should I pour the syrup over my Orange Phyllo Cake?
The original recipe called for pouring hot syrup over a cold cake or cold syrup over a hot cake, however, the hot syrup didn't fully soak into this cake whilst cold. Some recipes suggest poking holes into the cake so it soaks the syrup up more fully, though my recommendation is to pour a warm syrup over the hot cake and allow it to stand for at least one hour to fully soak up and cool completely before serving.
Can I make this ahead?
Absolutely! Due to the fact the cake needs time for the syrup to soak you could make this the day prior to serving! This will keep covered for up to 5 days, but is best served with 48 hours.
Other pastry desserts you'll enjoy
Bossche Bollen - Dutch Profiteroles
How to make Portokalopita - Greek Orange Phyllo Cake:
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F and greaseproof your cake tin with 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil. Set aside.
Cut or shred the phyllo pastry into ½ inch pieces.
Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat on medium speed with a mixer until pale and fluffy.
Add the orange zest, greek yogurt, vanilla extract and baking powder. Beat on medium speed until well combined.
Whilst mixing, slowly add the sunflower oil in a steady stream until well combined.
Add in a handful of the torn phyllo pastry into the mixture and stir through to incorporate, continue adding a handful at a time and stirring until fully incorporated.
Pour into your cake tin, smoothing out evenly and bake until golden, approximately 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place the sugar, water, orange juice and cinnamon stick into a saucepan on medium heat until simmering and the mixture has reduced somewhat, approximately 3 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Pour the syrup evenly over the top and allow to sit and or at least 1 hour to soak up the syrup and cool fully.
Slice and serve.
Portokalopita - Greek Orange Phyllo Cake
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Yield: Serves 10 1x
- Category: Cakes
- Cuisine: Greek
This Portokalopita - Greek Orange Phyllo Cake recipe is a phyllo layered cake where the pastry is stirred into a custard, baked until golden and then a syrup is poured over the top. It has a subtle orange flavor, but it's those waves of pastry that make this one quite unforgettable!
500 grams / 1 pound phyllo pastry
4 large eggs, room temperature
200 grams / 1 cup superfine/caster sugar
2 oranges zested, approximately 3 tablespoons, finely chopped
300 grams / 10.5 ounces Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 grams / 1 teaspoon baking powder
250 milliliters / 1 cup sunflower oil
200 grams / 1 cup superfine/caster sugar
350 milliliters / 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 oranges, juiced, approximately 80 milliliters or ⅓ cup
1 cinnamon stick
- Preheat your oven to 180C/350F and greaseproof your cake tin with 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil. Set aside.
- Cut or shred the phyllo pastry into ½ inch pieces.
- Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat on medium speed with a mixer until pale and fluffy.
- Add the orange zest, greek yogurt, vanilla extract and baking powder. Beat on medium speed until well combined.
- Whilst mixing, slowly add the sunflower oil in a steady stream until well combined.
- Add in a handful of the torn phyllo pastry into the mixture and stir through to incorporate, continue adding a handful at a time and stirring until fully incorporated.
- Pour into your cake tin, smoothing out evenly and bake until golden, approximately 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, place the sugar, water, orange juice and cinnamon stick into a saucepan on medium heat until simmering and the mixture has reduced somewhat, approximately 3 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour the syrup evenly over the top and allow to sit and or at least 1 hour to soak up the syrup and cool fully.
- Slice and serve.
Adapted from My Greek Salad
- Calories: 552 calories per serve
Keywords: cake, citrus, custard
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