Remember that crate of oranges I showed in my last post?

Well, they have now all been processed and frozen for future use. Most of them were simply juiced which we will turn into a party punch or orangeade (or even some indulgent orange sherbet) later in the year. However since there is a lovely orange almond cake I make with a puréed orange that comes from Diane Henry’s Crazy Water Pickled Lemons cookbook, I’ve made packets of purée from boiled oranges waiting in the freezer for future cake making.

At the same time, the orange purée reminded me of a simple Greek sweet which I adore – portokalopia (πορτοκαλόπιτα), or orange pie (sometimes translated as orange cake). There is certainly enough frozen purée packets for both Diane Henry’s almond cake and this kind of pie. And, for quite some time now, I’ve been meaning to pass on this recipe.

A perfect phyllo recipe for the beginner – no need to take care with the ultra thin sheets to prevent them from drying out or breaking. In fact, they are required to dry and crumble.

  • 2 large oranges (I used 4 of my small ones)
  • 1 packet of Phyllo (about 600g)
  • 250g sugar
  • 250ml corn or sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g Greek yogurt
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Boil the oranges in water for about 1 hour until very soft. Cut into quarters, remove any seeds and purée the whole thing in your food processor.

Meanwhile, separate the phyllo sheets, rip them and let them dry. Once dried, crunch them a little more into pieces with your hands.

Add the sugar and oil in your mixer to blend. Then add eggs to the mix, one at a time. Finally, add the orange purée, yogurt, milk, baking powder, soda and salt. Process until smooth. Fold phyllo pieces into the orange mixture, a handful at a time until all the phyllo is used up.

Put the mixture into a lightly oiled rectangular 25cm x 35cm (or a 9 x 13 inch) baking pan (a tapsi in Greek). Bake at 170 degrees C for 35-40 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it completely cool (see note below).

Make the syrup.

  • 350g sugar
  • juice from 3 oranges (about 250ml)
  • 250ml water
  • cinnamon stick, optional

In a large pot, place all of the syrup ingredients and heat until the sugar dissolves and it begins to boil, forming a light syrup in about 2 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick if you used it. Prick the top of the pita with a toothpick and carefully cut into pieces. Then pour the hot syrup on the cooled phyllo pie/cake (see note blow). It will look like a lot of syrup, but the pita acts as a sponge and will absorb it all in about 1 to 2 hours. Serve and enjoy.

* * *

Note: Either the baked phyllo mixture needs to be cool and the syrup hot or the phyllo mixture hot and the syrup cold.


  1. Wonderful, and thanks for sharing. I will definitely give this a go. I follow Diane Henry on IG and just a few days ago she posted a pic of phyllo drying for this very dessert. I’d made a note to see if I could find it online, sounds wonderful


  2. How clever! I’ll have to remember as a way of using up dried out phyllo, I’m really curious about the texture 🙂 Also checking on the weight of phyllo (and how critical it is) – 1 pack here is 375g and I haven’t seen any as big as 600…


  3. Marvelous simply marvelous! My kind of dessert and one even a non-baker like me might master. We love to cook Greek dishes and indeed have lamb kleftiko slated for an upcoming gathering of friends and I believe this might just be the perfect dessert to pair with it. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.


  4. Groan, that looks delicious. Just a thought – I make Nigella Lawson’s clementine cake which is probably a version of the orange cake you mention – instead of boiling the clementines for her suggested 2 hours I use a pressure cooker and they are done in 15 minutes.


    • It s a great (and easy) cake to make. Cut the pieces small! NL’s clementine cake sounds interesting, though a 2 hour boil seems excessive. Pressure cookers remind me of my childhood when the things were all the rage (i.e. pre-microwave fast food production). But, people keep mentioning them and I expect they are much less scary, so I’m going to go shopping for one once we are settled back in the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, this is delicious. To you mind if I use one of the images – of the completed cake – on Twitter? I am tweeting a cake from every European country at the moment. I will link back to this blog.


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