If you’ve ever worked with phyllo dough, you know that you’ve got limited time to use it before it turns into a flaky, dried out mess. All is not lost.
Portokalopita (por-toh-kah-LOH-pee-tah) translates loosely to “orange cake”. It’s similar in flavor to ravani, but instead of using flour, portokalopita uses dried and crumbled phyllo dough. Phyllo is made with flour so it becomes a perfect replacement. The cake is then soaked in an orange syrup that keeps it moist and full of bright, citrusy flavor.
The reality is that this cake was created to use up leftover scraps of phyllo, or to make use of phyllo that may have gotten too dried to use for other recipes. But the cake tastes so good, that it’s quite alright for you to go and buy fresh phyllo dough to make it. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about keeping the phyllo sheets nice, since you get to crumple it all up on purpose. It’s seriously one of the most gratifying feelings ever!
Portokalopita (Greek Orange & Phyllo Cake) Recipe
Many boxes of phyllo come in 2 pound packages and are found in the freezer section of the grocery store or deli. This recipe uses 1 pound of phyllo, but you can easily double it to use the whole box.
For the syrup:
- 1 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long
- 1 cup orange marmalade
- 1/4 cup water
For the cake:
- 1 lb. phyllo dough, dried and crumbled into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. orange zest
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
Phyllo dough is usually kept frozen and defrosted in the refrigerator before using. This is to keep the dough from getting mushy as it defrosts as well as to keep it from getting torn. Since you are going to crumple it all up, there is no need to worry about being gentle. In fact, it is easier to break phyllo up while it is frozen.
You’ll want to remove the phyllo from the package and put it onto a baking sheet. Break it up and spread it around as evenly as possible, then place the pan into the oven set at 125 F. Stir the phyllo around every 5 minutes until it is completely dry. Then break it up into very small pieces into a large bowl. Add the baking powder and mix it in. Set aside.
In a saucepan, put the first three ingredients for the syrup and heat until boiling. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook for five minutes. Set the pot aside and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9×13 in cake pan, OR two 9 inch round pans, OR two 8×8 inch square pans.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until light and foamy. Add the sugar and continue beating until the sugar is nearly dissolved. Add the juice, zest, and extract and continue to beat until mixed. Add the olive oil and beat it in completely. Last add the Greek yogurt and mix it in until completely combined.
Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the phyllo dough. Mix together until completely combined, but no need to mix it hard. Just like any cake made with flour, you don’t want it to become tough by overworking the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and place them in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave the cake in the pans, and set them on a cooling rack. Ladle the cooled syrup over the cake while it is still hot. It won’t be absorbed right away, but it will eventually soak into the cake, usually within an hour. Once the syrup has been soaked up, mix the orange marmalade and the 1/4 cup water and heat until it is syrupy. Pour the marmalade mixture over the cake, making sure to distribute the orange pieces. Once this last bit of syrup has been soaked into the cake it is ready to serve! The cake is best at room temperature, but can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. It tastes amazing with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream! Try it with a little extra warmed orange marmalade dribbled over the ice cream. Yummy!!