Portokalopita is an Greek compound word translated into “orange pie”. The first time I ever saw this dish was recently at my friend Maria’s blog, “Kali Orexi”. I have never before heard of this dessert, I have never ever eaten a Portokalopita. I was awestruck by the beauty of the pie, the simplicity of the dish and the ingredients. Shredded phyllo?
Maria was hastily given the recipe from her father-in-law who heard about the dessert from a co-worker. All Maria had was a hastily jotted recipe that originated from third party word-of-mouth. Her fabulous result is a testament to her sharp kitchen intuition.
I took a look around the Greek realm of the WWW and surprisingly I found several references and recipes to Portokalopita. What I’ve come up with is some inspiration from Maria and some aspects of a few other Portokalopitas out there. I’m sure you’ll adore this dessert as much as I do. Have you clicked “bookmark” yet? If not, you will soon.
Lovers of the Greek dessert Galaktoboureko will love a Portokalopita. Those looking for another phyllo recipe will like this, especially if you’re a little timid with phyllo, Portokalopita is the dessert for you to try. The ingredients are basic, skills needed are little and the end result will WOW yourself, family or dinner guests.
The base is a layer of phyllo that’s ruffled. One gathers each sheet of phyllo with your fingers to create an accordion-like look. Six to eight sheets of phyllo are required to cover the base of the pie. This ruffled phyllo base gets baked for 10-12 minutes and its allowed to rest.
The next next step is the filling. You need vegetable oil, Greek yogurt, orange zest, some orange liqueur, vanilla extract, sugar, eggs and raisins and….shredded phyllo sheets! YES! Shredded phyllo sheets. This step might act as therapy for those of you with phyllo woes of yore. You heard me…you get to shred phyllo sheets.
What else? Nothing but the syrup! Pour the filling’s mixture over the phyllo base and bake. You can use a basic recipe that’s used for Baklava or a Galaktoboureko. I added the zest of one orange to continue with the theme of oranges. Greece’s oranges, lemons and other citrus are at their peak…this Portokalopita celebrates Greece’s oranges.
Like all the other Greek desserts that involve syrup and phyllo – one element has to be hot and the other cold. Having said that, you can make the syrup before anything else and allow it to cool. The other option is to make the Portokalopita and then make the syrup. The pie will have been baked and it should be cooled by the time your syrup is ready. Hot syrup over cold pie. Understood?
The final touch to this dessert is topping the Portokalopita with some orange spoon sweet. Greeks have been preserved fruit and vegetables for ages and of of the more popular spoon sweets are made of orange peel. You can find orange spoon sweet at a Greek market or patisserie. If you still can’t find orange spoon sweet, adding some good orange marmalade (with orange rind present) into the syrup.
The only thingÂ I have left to do is describe how this tasted and it’s texture. The Portokalopita is firm yet moist and soft enough to only use a fork or a spoon…no knife required. Cut a piece with your fork and slide it in your mouth. The first thing you’ll taste and feel is the sweet, slightly caramelized phyllo with the hint of cinnamon. Then there’s the creamy filling, with random pieces of phyllo switching-up the texture. Finally, the syrup and slight crunch of the orange spoon sweet. I never thought an orange dessert could taste so good!
1 stick of melted unsalted butter
1 oven safe baking vessel (10 X 12X2)
For the Base
1 450gr. pkge. of phyllo (thawed overnight in the fridge and then take out 15 mins. before use)
1/2 cup sugar
zest of two oranges
1 tsp. vanilla extract
splash of orange liqueur
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder
1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of raisins
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
- Thinly slices your oranges. Place a large pot of water on your stove-top and bring to a boil. Place the orange slices in the post and bring back to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes and then drain. Repeat this step two more times (this removes the bitterness from the white pith). Reserve your orange slices.
- Place water and sugar in a wide pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add orange slices and simmer, turning oranges occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes or until oranges are soft and beginning to look translucent.Â Transfer slices to a rack to cool, reserving syrup. If syrup is not thick enough then boil down until it thickens as it is the glaze for the oranges.
- Pre-heat your oven and gather all your ingredients (mise en place). Take out your thawed phyllo from the fridge and allow 15 minutes for it to come to room temperature. In the meantime, melt your stick of butter in a small pot and set aside.
- Using a brush, grease your baking vessel with the melted butter. Brush a sheet of phyllo and sprinkle some sugar and ground cinnamon lightly and evenly. Now using your fingers, pinch the phyllo to create a fold and continue to pinch and fold until you have created a ruffled (accordion) affect with the sheet of phyllo. Lay the ruffled phyllo lengthwise into the baking vessel. Repeat with about six or seven more sheets of phyllo or until the base is covered with your rows of ruffled phyllo. Reserve the remaining phyllo sheets.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes in your pre-heated oven. Take out of the oven and allow to cool.
- In the meantime, add the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until incorporated. Now add your vanilla extract, orange zest, orange liqueur and whisk again. Now add the salt, baking powder, yogurt, vegetable oil and whisk until incorporated. Mix in the raisins. Now using your hands, tear the remaining sheets of phyllo and add into the bowl. Mix well with a spatula and then pour over your baked ruffled phyllo base.
- Place in your pre-heated oven (middle rack) for 35-40 minutes or until light-gold on top.
- Pour your cold syrup over the hot Portokalopita one ladle at a time. Allow the pie to fully cool before cutting and serving. Arrange cooled candied oranges on the PortokalopitaÂ before serving.
NOTE: For a variation: try this recipe with lemons in place of oranges.
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