Portokalopita is a traditional Greek cake, made with phyllo pastry and 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 one of the best Greek cakes 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, orange juice, orange cups, cinnamon stick, and water to a small cooking pot and boil for 8 minutes over high heat.
There is no need to stir the syrup. Let the sugar dissolve on its own. It won't get too thick. This is a light syrup because the phyllo cake is pretty dense therefore the syrup needs to be light so it can be absorbed by the cake.
Once syrup is cooked let it cool down to room temperature.
Recipe Tip: 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.
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. Others (including me) prefer to do this in a low-heated oven. In order to both speed up the process, as well as make the phyllo even more crispy.
So to prepare the phyllo for Portokalopita, cut the log of phyllo into thick strips. Then start to pull apart the strips separating the sheet from each other.
It's important to separate the sheets so they won't form dense lumps within the cake.
Bake the phyllo for 15 minutes at 150°C / 300°F. Then remove from the oven, flip the phyllo, and allow to air-dry even further while you prepare the cake batter.
The Cake Batter
The cake batter for this Greek syrup cake couldn't be easier. You are already done with the more difficult part of the recipe (the syrup, and phyllo dough) and it's time for the easy-peasy part. So grab your whisk and let's do it!
Add the eggs to a mixing bowl and beat lightly. Add the sugar and beat until sugar dissolves then add Greek yogurt and orange juice mixed together.
Next, add vanilla sugar, orange zest, and baking powder. Give it a good stir with the whisk and it's time to start adding the phyllo.
Take 2-3 handfuls of the dry and crunchy phyllo and toss them into the batter by breaking them a bit into smaller pieces. Give it a good stir and proceed to add the next batch.
Once all of the phyllo is incorporated into the batter, transfer to a 13 x 9 inch (33 x 23 cm) pan that you have greased with cooking spray or just some vegetable oil.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 170°C / 340°F and ladle the cooled syrup over the hot cake right as you get it out of the oven.
This phyllo dough cake needs to sit at room temperature for about 2 to 3 hours to cool and absorb the syrup. You may then cut and serve or allow it to cool completely and then refrigerate for 6-8 hours. Cold Portokalopita is the best!
SERVE WITH ⬇
There is nothing better to accompany this scrumptious Greek cake with syrup other than Frozen yogurt. The tangy and refreshing taste of Frozen yogurt balances the sweetness of the cake amazingly well.
You can try my recipe for Homemade Frozen Yogurt. Or you can simply serve it with a scoop of Greek yogurt on top and some ground cinnamon, like in the pictures.
In Greece, a favorite way to serve Portokalopita is with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream. Another great topping is this airy and light Greek yogurt whipped cream.
Portokalopita - Greek Orange Pie
For The Orange Pie:
- 1 pack (450 grams / 16 ounce) phyllo (filo) dough
- 5 medium-sized eggs
- 300 grams (10.6 ounce) Greek yogurt strained and preferably full-fat
- 150 grams (5.3 ounce) sugar
- 2 oranges zested
- 80 ml orange juice
- 1 pouch (9 grams) vanilla sugar
- 20 grams (4 teaspoons) baking powder
- 250 ml corn oil
For The Syrup:
- 600 grams (3 cups) sugar
- 500 ml water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 200 grams (7 ounce) fresh orange juice (keep the orange cups)
- 1 cinnamon stick
Make The Syrup:
- Before you begin making Portokalopita you need to make the syrup. So it will be at room temperature when you add it to the pie.
- In a small cooking pot add all of the ingredients for the syrup. Add also 2 orange cups.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and skim the surface. Don't stir the syrup.
- Cook for 8 minutes until slightly thickened. Turn the heat off and set aside to cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and orange cups.
Prepare The Filo:
- Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F.
- Take the filo roll and cut it into 2,5 cm / 1-inch strips.
- Add to a sheet pan or oven tray and separate most filo from each other. Toss fluffily onto the pan and place the pan in the oven.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the filo. Leave like this to airdry while making the pie batter.
Make The Portokalopita:
- Raise the oven's temperature to 170°C / 340°F.
- In a small bowl stir together the Greek yogurt and orange juice until uniform. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl add the eggs and beat lightly. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Add the yogurt mixture and whisk until uniform.
- Mix in the vanilla sugar, baking powder, and orange zest.
- Gradually incorporate the oil while whisking. Once fully combined start to add the filo.
- Take 2-3 handfuls of the filo and add to the mixture. Breaking the bigger pieces and separating any that have stuck together.
- Start using a pastry spoon to stir the mixture. Pressing the filo to sink in the batter, keep adding handfuls of filo until you add it all.
- Grease a 13 x 9 inch (33 x 23 cm) pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
- Add the batter and spread evenly.
- Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until deep golden lightly browned on top.
- Ladle the cooled syrup over the hot pie.
- Cut all the way through and divide into pieces to help the pie absorb the syrup. I cut it into 8 big pieces. You can divide the 8 pieces in half to get 16 smaller triangles or simply cut the pie into smaller square pieces to begin with. Though I doubt you'll have only one!
- Allow the pie to sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours and absorb the syrup. It will look like a lot but it will absorb it all.
- Once the orange pie gets to room temperature cover and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours. Cold Portokalopita is the best but you can also enjoy it at room temperature if you prefer.
- Serve with a scoop of Greek yogurt and cinnamon on top or see other suggestions in the text above. Enjoy!