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Portokalopita – Greek Orange Phyllo Cake

Portokalopita is a traditional Greek orange cake that is extraordinarily aromatic and moist. It is soaked in a mildly spiced orange syrup.

Portokalopita Greek Orange Phyllo CakePortokalopita (pronounced por-to-ka-LO-pi-ta) is a very popular dessert in Greece, but it’s a bit unusual and nothing like my other cake recipes on the blog!  

If you’re an orange lover, though, you will absolutely love this cake! It’s really fragrant and orangey.

What is Portokalopita?

In Greek, portokali means orange and pita means pie and portokalopita means orange pie. Technically speaking, this recipe is not a pie, but I’m assuming it got its name because of the phyllo dough that’s in it. 

Phyllo dough is often used in making Greek pies, like spanakopita (spinach pie) or tiropita (cheese pie).

However, for this recipe, instead of creating a filling in between sheets of phyllo dough, the phyllo dough sheets have been dried out and shredded ON PURPOSE and put INSIDE the cake batter! 

The result? Phenomenal!  The texture is fluffy and light and very moist.

Even though oranges aren’t in season right now, I always make portokalopita in the summer because my family loves it served cold with ice cream. Of course, you can serve it warm or at room temperature any time of the year.

What I really like, though, is that this recipe is very straightforward and simple!

WORKING WITH PHYLLO DOUGH

If you’ve ever made anything with phyllo dough before, like my Greek Baklava Rolls (Saragli) recipe, you’ll know that it’s very, very delicate and you need to protect it from drying out; otherwise you won’t be able to use it. 

Well, with this recipe, you don’t have to worry about that at all because you need to dry out the phyllo sheets and crush them into tiny pieces.

HOW TO DRY OUT PHYLLO DOUGH

There are different ways to do this. Some people choose to place the phyllo sheets on a large surface and let them dry out on their own. The downside is that this could take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on where you live and the climate, as well as how humid it is. 

For me, the easiest and fastest way to dry out the phyllo sheets is to bake them in the oven. It saves so much time because it only takes about 10-15 minutes. Some people separate each sheet before drying them out in the oven, but I find this to be time-consuming and messy, so I dry them out a little differently (see the picture tutorial below).

HOW TO CRUSH THE PHYLLO DOUGH

When the phyllo dough sheets have completely dried out, you need to crush them. I usually do it over a large bowl, but sometimes I just crush the sheets over the baking sheet that I dried them on. If you have kids, I’m sure they would love to help you out with this! As you crush the dough in your hands, it’ll sound like someone is eating a lot of potato chips!

What you need to make Portokalopita:

Phyllo dough sheets 

Eggs

Orange juice & zest

Vegetable oil

Baking powder

Baking soda

Cognac or brandy

Greek yogurt

Sugar

Cinnamon sticks

Cloves (optional)

HOW TO MAKE PORTOKALOPITA

The first thing to do is make the syrup and let it cool. I usually make it a few hours ahead and put it in the refrigerator so it’s nice and cold.

After that, you dry out your phyllo sheets and crush them:

Portokalopita steps

Then you make the batter and bake the cake:

portokalopita steps part2

 

HOW TO SERVE PORTOKALOPITA

Portokalopita can be served in so many delicious ways! Here are a few of my favorites! You should definitely give them ALL a try!

Warm or cold

You can serve it warm or cold with some vanilla ice cream  or Greek yogurt. Personally, I really think Portokalopita tastes a lot better the next day, straight out of the fridge. It’s just perfect for hot summer days! 

portokalopita with ice cream

Chocolate

OMG! Chocolate and orange are a match made in Heaven!!! Chocolate  goes so well with Portokalopita! The combination is to die for! You can drizzle some homemade chocolate syrup on top or make the delicious chocolate ganache topping that I’ve included in the recipe card!

portokalopita with chocolate

Orange slices or fruit preserves 

You could also add fresh (or candied) orange slices or fruit preserves on top for a more impressive presentation and extra flavor!

portokalopita greek orange phyllo cake

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • The phyllo dough sheets need to be COMPLETELY dried out. Traditional Portokalopita is always made with dried, crushed phyllo dough. If you don’t dry out the phyllo dough, it will clump together in the batter. If there are clumps of fresh phyllo in the batter, the cake won’t bake evenly and you won’t get the same texture throughout the cake.
  • When adding the shredded phyllo sheets to the batter, you need to do it a little at a time; otherwise the pieces won’t be evenly distributed. 
  • I used a 10 x 12 inch (25 x 30 cm) pan, but you could also use a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan.
  • If you use a nonstick pan, you don’t need to butter and flour it.
  • When the cake is done, use a toothpick or a wooden souvlaki skewer to poke holes all over it before adding the syrup. This will help it absorb the syrup faster.
  • Like all Greek desserts made with syrup, you either add the cold syrup to the hot dessert or vice versa. For this recipe, I add the cold syrup to the hot cake.
  • Add the syrup one ladle at a time, allowing the cake to absorb it before adding more syrup.
  • Let the cake cool COMPLETELY before cutting it (at least an hour).

WANT TO TRY MORE GREEK RECIPES? CHECK THESE OUT:

How to make ancient Greek sesame bars (Pasteli)

Rizogalo (Greek Rice Pudding + Vegan Option)

Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookies) 

Greek Halva Cake

 

Let me know how this Portokalopita turns out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

~Voula 😀

Portokalopita - Greek Orange Phyllo Cake

Portokalopita is a traditional Greek orange cake that is extraordinarily aromatic and moist. It is soaked in a mildly spiced orange syrup.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Greek, orange, phyllo cake
Servings: 12

Equipment

  • one 10 x 12 inch or 9 x 13 inch (25 X 30 cm) pan

Ingredients

For the orange syrup

  • 1 ¼ cup (250 g / 9 oz) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml / 8 fl oz) water
  • 1 cup (250 ml / 8 fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 whole cloves (optional)

For the cake

  • 1 pound (450 g) phyllo dough, thawed (1 package)
  • 1 cup (250 ml / 8 fl oz) light vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200 g / 7 oz) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest from 3-4 oranges
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 container Greek yogurt (200 g / 7 oz - I used 2%)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl oz) milk 

For the chocolate ganache (Optional)

  • 4.4 oz / 125 g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

Instructions

Prep the pan

  • Lightly grease and flour the pan. Set aside.

Make the orange syrup

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar, water, orange juice, and cognac/brandy and whisk/stir it for about 1 minute to dissolve the sugar. Add the spices and gently simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool and then refrigerate while preparing the cake.

Dry and shred the phyllo dough

  • Preheat the oven to 212 °F / 100°C.
  • Without unrolling the phyllo dough, slice it into 8-10 pieces.
  • Unroll each piece and separate all the strips of dough.
  • Evenly spread the strips of dough onto 2 baking sheets and bake for about 10-15 minutes, bringing the strips of dough on the bottom of the sheet to the top halfway through the baking time.
  • Finely crush the dried phyllo, a few strips at a time, using both hands. You can do this on the baking sheet or in a large bowl. Set aside.

Make the batter

  • Set the oven temperature to 392 °F / 200°C.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil and sugar together for about two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is a pale yellow color.
  • Add the zest, the baking powder, baking soda, yogurt, and milk and mix until everything is well combined.
  • Using a silicone spatula, gently fold in the crushed phyllo dough, a handful at a time. Do not add the phyllo dough all at once.
  • Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until it becomes golden brown.
  • When done, take it out of the oven and immediately poke the entire cake with a toothpick or souvlaki skewer and pour the orange syrup over it, one ladle at a time.
  • Let it cool completely before cutting or adding the chocolate ganache (at least an hour). Refrigerate.

Make the chocolate ganache

  • In a heat-proof bowl, preferably glass, add the chocolate, cream/milk, and butter and place it over a pot of just simmering water. Stir until the chocolate melts completely. Spread it over the cooled cake.
  • Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • The phyllo dough sheets need to be COMPLETELY dried out. 
  • When adding the shredded phyllo sheets to the batter, you need to do a little at a time, otherwise the pieces won’t be evenly distributed.
  • Add the syrup a ladle at a time, allowing the cake to absorb it before adding more syrup.
  • Let it cool COMPLETELY before cutting it (at least an hour).
© Pastry Wishes
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Ouzo-spiked Chocolate Orange Cake 

Anyone for a slice of ouzo-spiked orange chocolate cake? This orange cake is made with a delicious chocolate ganache with a hint of ouzo which gives it a very subtle, yet distinctive flavor. You will definitely impress your guests with this unique cake!

ouzo-spiked chocolate orange cake

I have a confession to make. 

I do not like ouzo! 

If you’re not Greek, you’re probably saying “What?!? You’re Greek!” 

And if you’re Greek, you’re probably saying “What?!? How can you possibly not enjoy a shot of ouzo with a ‘meze’ by a beautiful beachside tavern overlooking the Aegean?”

I know, I know… weird!

I just never liked ouzo. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in my family that doesn’t like it!  

Having said that, though, I do like ouzo in some desserts. For example, it’s wonderful in Kourabiedes!

If you’re not familiar with Ouzo, it has a unique flavor which I find pairs well with chocolate! It’s not intense, but it offers a very delicate aroma and taste. Together with the orange cake, it’s phenomenal! 

This ouzo-spiked chocolate orange cake is remarkably moist, but not too sweet or rich.

Ouzo-spiked chocolate orange cake

Why you’ll love this Ouzo-spiked Chocolate Orange Cake:

This cake is really easy to make with simple ingredients. It would also make a beautiful gift! 

You could also top the chocolate ganache with some extra orange zest or even chopped nuts! 

Orange + Chocolate + Ouzo = A DELICIOUS COMBINATION!

I really hope you enjoy this cake!

~Voula

Let me know how this Ouzo-spiked Chocolate Orange Cake turned out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

ouzo-spiked chocolate orange cake

OUZO-SPIKED CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE

Prep Time15 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: chocolate orange cake, ganache, ouzo

Ingredients

  • 2 ½  cups (320 g / 11.2 oz) all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (4 oz / 113 g) butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • Zest of 4 oranges, finely grated (use less if you don’t want an intense orange flavor)
  • Juice from 1 orange (about ¼ cup / 60 ml / 2 fl oz)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or regular milk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice)

Ouzo Chocolate Ganache

  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) heavy cream
  • ½ tablespoon Ouzo 

Optional Toppings

  • finely grated orange zest or chopped walnuts

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 175 °C / 350 °F
  • Grease and flour a (fluted) tube pan or Bundt pan. Set aside.

Make the cake

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until creamy (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Add the orange zest and sugar and beat until fluffy (about 3 minutes), scraping the bowl frequently.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed for about a minute after each addition.
  • Add the flour mixture, the orange juice, and buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beating on high speed until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When it’s done, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.
  • Then invert the cake on a wire rack or a large serving plate and allow it to cool completely before adding the Ouzo Chocolate Ganache.

Make the Ouzo Chocolate Ganache

  • Heat the cream until very hot, but not boiling.
  • Pour the cream over the finely chopped chocolate and set aside for about 2 minutes. Stir the chocolate mixture until the chocolate has melted, and then stir in the ouzo.
  • Pour/Spoon the Ouzo Chocolate Ganache on the cooled cake. If you want, decorate with extra orange zest or chopped walnuts.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

If you don’t have buttermilk, just add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to milk. Stir and let it sit for a few minutes.
© Pastry Wishes

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MANDARIN MARMALADE (Without Pectin + Tips)

This mandarin marmalade is spiced with cinnamon and has a unique, bittersweet flavor! The hint of brandy adds a balance to the sweet and tangy fruit. It’s great on toast for breakfast or over Greek yogurt!

Mandarin Marmalade

I love making jams and marmalades when the fruit is in season! That way I have different jams and marmalades all throughout the year!

My neighbors gave me a huge bag of mandarins from their organic citrus farm in Sparta, which is in the Peloponnese. Sparta is well-known for its citrus fruit, so I couldn’t wait to make this marmalade!

Mandarin Marmalade

I have to be upfront with you – this is not a very quick recipe and it tends to be a bit messy, BUT, believe me, it’s easy and totally worth it!

Like all my jams and marmalades, this recipe does not use commercial pectin. I always avoid it because you need a lot of sugar when using pectin, sometimes up to 80%  more! So I avoid commercial pectin like the plague!

This marmalade is made with only 5 ingredients, each with its own purpose and importance.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Mandarins: I used seedless mandarins for this recipe, but you could use tangerines or clementines.

Sugar: I always use regular, granulated sugar because it dissolves easily. You could use dark brown sugar as long as you don’t mind the marmalade turning dark in color.

Cinnamon Sticks: They really give an amazing mild flavor.

Lemon Juice: It has lots of pectin, which is needed to thicken the marmalade naturally.

Brandy or Cognac: This pairs well with citrus fruit and cinnamon! I really love the combination!

2 small plates: I always put 2 small plates in the refrigerator when I start making the marmalade. They are needed to test if the marmalade has set.

Mandarin Marmalade

How to make Mandarin Marmalade in 4 Steps:

STEP 1: PREP THE MANDARINS AND LEMON JUICE

Juice 2 lemons and set aside. Wash the mandarins well and pat dry. Juice half of them and set the juice aside. Put the peels in a heavy pot. Peel the remaining mandarins, discard the pith, and put all the peels in the pot. Chop the fruit into small pieces, removing any seeds. If you don’t like chunky pieces of fruit in the marmalade, you can put the fruit in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

STEP 2: PREP THE PEELS TO REMOVE THE BITTERNESS

Cover the peels in the pot with water. Boil for about 15 minutes and then drain the water. Stack a few peels one on top of the other, and cut into strips, as thick as you like. Put them back into the pot.

STEP 3: MAKE THE MARMALADE (OR PREP IT FOR THE NEXT DAY)

Add the fruit, the lemon juice and mandarin juice to the pot with the peels. Weigh this mixture and add the same amount of sugar (for example, if the fruit mixture weighs 1 kilo (2.2 pounds), add 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of sugar). Add the cinnamon sticks.

(Note: At this point, if you’re pressed for time, you could cover the pot now, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and continue making the marmalade the next day.)

Put the pot on medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Then turn up the heat to high and bring to a rapid boil, uncovered. Remove any foam from the top. Stir often to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

STEP 4: TEST THE MARMALADE AND SEAL

After about 30-35 minutes, take the pot off the heat to test if the marmalade has set. The mixture will have reduced and become thick. Spoon some of the mixture onto a cold plate and put it back into the refrigerator for about 1-2 minutes. Then take it back out and push the mixture with the back of a teaspoon. If it crinkles while you’re pushing, the marmalade is set. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then stir in the cognac/brandy. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving about 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace. Clean the rim of the jars with damp paper towels and seal.

For a simple method of testing the marmalade, check out the photo tutorial in this post .

It’s what I use to test all my jams and marmalades.

TIPS FOR MAKING MARMALADE

1 Use sterilized jars and utensils.

2 Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before bringing everything to a rolling boil.

3 While you’re testing the marmalade to see if it has set, take the pot off the heat or you might overcook it and make it too thick and dry.

4 Allow about 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace when filling the jars.

I hope you enjoy this mandarin marmalade!

~Voula

Let me know how this mandarin marmalade turns out for you in the comments! I would love to hear from you!

MANDARIN MARMALADE (Without Pectin + Tips)

This mandarin marmalade is spiced with cinnamon and has a unique, bittersweet flavor! The hint of brandy adds a balance to the sweet and tangy fruit. It’s great on toast for breakfast or over Greek yogurt!
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: mandarin, marmalade, tips, without pectin
Servings: 2 kilos (4.4 lbs)

Ingredients

  • 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) mandarins/tangerines/clementines
  • about 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) sugar (depending on the weight of the fruit mixture)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac (optional)

Instructions

  • Put 2 small plates in the refrigerator (they'll be needed to test if the marmalade has set).

PREP THE MANDARINS AND LEMON JUICE

  • Juice 2 lemons and set aside.
  • Wash the mandarins well and pat dry. Juice half of them and set the juice aside.
  • Put the peels in a heavy pot.
  • Peel the remaining mandarins, discard the pith, and put all the peels in the pot.
  • Chop the fruit into small pieces, removing any seeds. If you don’t like chunky pieces of fruit in the marmalade, you can put the fruit in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

PREP THE PEELS TO REMOVE THE BITTERNESS

  • Cover the peels in the pot with water. Boil for about 15 minutes and then drain the water.
  • Stack a few peels one on top of the other, and cut into strips. Put them back into the pot.

MAKE THE MARMALADE (OR PREP IT FOR THE NEXT DAY)

  • Add the fruit, the lemon juice and mandarin juice to the pot with the peels.
  • Weigh this mixture and add the same amount of sugar (for example, if the fruit mixture weighs 1 kilo (2.2 pounds), add 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of sugar).
  • Add the cinnamon sticks.

(NOTE: At this point, if you're pressed for time, you could cover the pot now, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and continue making the marmalade the next day.)

  • Put the pot on medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Then turn up the heat to high and bring to a rapid boil, uncovered.
  • Remove any foam from the top. Stir often to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

TEST THE MARMALADE AND SEAL

  • After about 30-35 minutes, take the pot off the heat to test if the marmalade has set. The mixture will have reduced and become thick. Spoon some of the mixture onto a cold plate and put it back into the refrigerator for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Then take it back out and push the mixture with the back of a teaspoon. If it crinkles while you’re pushing, the marmalade is set.
  • Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then stir in the brandy or cognac.
  • Pour into sterilized jars, leaving about 1 cm (1/2 inch) headspace. Clean the rim of the jars with damp paper towels and seal.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

The marmalade will thicken a bit as it cools.
© Pastry Wishes
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