This portokalopita recipe is an old-fashioned Greek dessert. The name actually means Greek orange pie (portokali means orange in Greek and pita means pie), but it’s really a dense cake instead.
You see, the traditional Greek orange cake batter is made with eggs, olive oil, sugar, Greek yogurt, baking powder, and orange zest. Can you already picture how dense those ingredients make the cake? One of the ingredients that set this orange cake recipe apart from the rest is that we fold crumbled phyllo pastry (also known as filo pastry) into the cake batter rather than using flour.
Once we bake the cake and it gets that quintessential golden crust on top, we pour homemade syrup over it made with orange juice and sugar. Every bite of Greek orange syrup cake is moist with a bread pudding texture and sticky sweet thanks to the orange syrup. Plus, the aroma is amazing and this is one of the most fragrant cakes I bet you’ll ever eat.
Phyllo pastry is such an important ingredient in Greek recipes as so many of our pie recipes, including cheese pie and spinach pie, are made with phyllo. So making portokalopita is a delicious way to use up leftover phyllo. Another great Greek dessert that pairs phyllo dough with syrup is baklava, of course.
So celebrate with a slice of this sticky orange cake served with a big old scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of Greek coffee.
If you’d like to add more flavor to the orange syrup, add some extra orange zest and/or one teaspoon of ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick while it simmers.
Another easy way to add extra flavor to the cake is to add one teaspoon of vanilla extract to the cake batter when you fold in the crumbled phyllo.
You can use any type of oil in the cake, such as vegetable oil or sunflower oil.
For a chocolate portokalopita, you can fold in up to one cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chunks. You can also add dried fruit instead, like cranberries or raisins. This isn’t traditional but it does taste delicious!
What is portokalopita (Greek orange cake) made of?
Portokalopita is an old-fashioned Greek orange cake made with orange zest, Greek yogurt, and dried crumbled phyllo folded into the cake batter. It’s known for its zesty orange flavor as well as its sticky sweet texture thanks to the orange syrup poured over the baked cake.
How do you pronounce portokalopita?
Portokalopita is pronounced por-to-kah-lo-peeta.
How do serve portokalopita?
This Greek orange phyllo cake obviously tastes absolutely scrumptious as is. But here are some other serving suggestions:
Drizzle cake slices with chocolate syrup or chocolate ganache, as chocolate always pairs well with orange.
Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a warm summer’s day.
Serve it with some extra plain Greek yogurt on the side.
Add a dollop of whipped cream.
Can I make portokalopita ahead of time?
This Greek orange filo cake is actually a great dessert to make at least a day in advance, as you can leave the cake covered in plastic wrap in the fridge to let the syrup soak into every delicious cake bite. In fact, some say it tastes even better when made ahead of time.
How do you store leftover portokalopita?
I recommend storing the leftover cake in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can serve it cold or quickly reheat slices either in the air fryer or microwave (no more than 30 seconds per piece).
Can you freeze portokalopita?
I don’t recommend freezing portokalopita. The phyllo pastry doesn’t freeze well and can become soggy once thawed.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and brush a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with olive oil.
For the cake, put the eggs, olive oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Beat the mixture well with an electric mixer until the ingredients are well combined. Add the yogurt, orange zest, and baking powder, and beat to combine.
Crush the phyllo sheets with your hands. Add the crushed phyllo to the cake batter and stir it in with a spatula. Evenly spread the batter in the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Make the syrup while the cake is baking. In a medium saucepan, stir together the orange juice and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer it over medium heat for 20 minutes, until it thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, stirring often. Let the syrup cool.
Slice the cake into 20 pieces and leave it to cool. When the cake and syrup are cool, pour all of the syrup on top of the cake; it will be absorbed.
Koula Barydakis was born into a long tradition of eating and living Mediterranean on the Greek island of Crete. She is a chef who has worked in many of the top restaurants in Crete and in Greek Town in Toronto, Canada. Koula is the co-author of “Foods of Crete, Traditional Recipes of the Healthiest People in the World” and is currently completing her second cookbook. Koula teaches cooking classes to tourists in Crete and has been hired to teach classes in other countries as well.