Portokalopita is a Greek orange phyllo cake made with fresh orange juice, phyllo sheets, Greek yogurt, oil, eggs, and sugar. I love this Greek dessert because, while it requires delicate phyllo sheets, the purpose is to crumble the phyllo into small pieces, so you won’t need to be as careful with them.
Portokalopita is so good! This cake is a bit different because the recipe uses shredded phyllo instead of flour, but it’s definitely worth a try! If you love chocolate, you’ve got to try this chocolate orange phyllo cake recipe. It has all of the juicy flavours of portokalopita, but it’s made with cocoa powder and smothered in a decadent chocolate orange icing.
“Portokali” translates into Orange in Greek, so since this is an orange cake, that’s where the name comes from! Portokalopita is a denser cake soaked in orange syrup once it comes out of the oven. The result is a sweet and slightly doughy cake bursting with orange flavour, cinnamon, and hints of vanilla.
Phyllo sheets are usually found in the freezer section at the grocery store. For this recipe, the phyllo needs to be dry to break it into smaller pieces before mixing it with the other ingredients.
If you’re planning to make this recipe, then you’ll need to thaw out the box of phyllo in your fridge overnight. Portokalopita is made with phyllo sheets instead of all-purpose flour. So, for best results, the phyllo must be completely dry before preparing the cake mixture.
It’s important to note that when you get to the final step of adding the cooled syrup to the warm cake, the syrup needs to be cold (or at least room temperature), and the cake should be warm. Alternatively, the syrup can be hot and the cake cool, but the goal is for the syrup to absorb into the cake.
Fresh orange juice is recommended for this recipe, but if you’d like to have extra orange juice on hand or are in a hurry, you can use no-pulp orange juice from the grocery store. However, the orange zest is key to the flavour of this recipe, so don’t leave it out.
I have the best results with 5% plain Greek yogurt when making this recipe. I would recommend using plain Greek yogurt. A higher-fat yogurt is preferred, but if you can only find 2% yogurt, then that’s ok too! Greek yogurt adds moisture to the cake, and you can’t taste it once it is baked.
HOW TO MAKE GREEK ORANGE PHYLLO CAKE (PORTOKALOPITA): STEP BY STEP
STEP 1: Phyllo sheets are found in the grocery store’s freezer section. Before you make this dessert, you’ll need to factor in the time for the phyllo sheets to thaw overnight in the fridge. Once the phyllo has thawed, open the phyllo box and spread out the phyllo sheets on a clean surface.
The phyllo will need to dry out for at least 90 minutes at room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can place the scrunched phyllo sheets on a baking tray and leave them in the oven for about 25 minutes to bake at 200 degrees F.
STEP 2: You’ll need approximately four oranges for the phyllo cake and two oranges for the orange syrup. Zest and juice two oranges (out of the six) and set them aside separately. This zest and juice will be used for the honey orange syrup. Zest and juice the remaining four oranges and set aside the zest and juice separately.
Since the amount of juice from each orange can vary, it’s a good idea to have a small bottle of no-pulp orange juice on hand just in case you need a little extra orange juice. Strain the orange juice using a small mesh strainer so that there is no pulp in the juice.
Prepare The Orange Syrup
STEP 3: Boil the water with the sugar and cinnamon stick for a few minutes. Then add the orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Stir together. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then simmer on low heat for a few minutes.
The orange syrup doesn’t need to cook for very long. Add in the lemon juice at the very end once the sauce has simmered and the heat has been lowered. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. The syrup is prepared first so it has time to cool while the cake is being made and baked.
STEP 4: Preheat the oven to bake at 350 degrees F.
Prepare The Phyllo Cake Batter
STEP 5: In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, and vanilla with an electric hand mixer. Whisk together for 5 minutes until the eggs and sugar are a pale yellow colour and frothy. If you don’t have an electric hand mixer, you can use a whisk, but the benefit of the mixer is that the eggs will be airier, and the cake will be light. Alternatively, you can use an electric stand mixer with a whisk attachment or just a whisk.
STEP 6: Add the Greek yogurt, oil, orange juice and orange zest, and whisk well together. When adding in the remaining ingredients, it’s best to use a whisk, a large spoon or a spatula. You won’t need to use an electric mixer when adding the phyllo pieces because it will be too strong for the delicate phyllo.
STEP 7: Mix 2-3 tablespoons of orange juice with one teaspoon of baking soda in a small cup. The liquid will fizz slightly. If not, your baking soda may be expired. Add the baking soda mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix well together and set the bowl with the wet ingredients aside.
STEP 8: By this point, the phyllo sheets should be dry. Using your hands, break the phyllo pastry apart into small pieces and place it into a separate large bowl. It should easily crumble – that’s what we want! Mix in the cinnamon once you have all the crumbled phyllo in a bowl.
STEP 9: Gradually add a handful of the phyllo pieces to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and mix them together with a spatula or large spoon. Repeat this process until all the phyllo has been added to the bowl with the wet ingredients.
When adding the phyllo, you must be careful because if you add too much at once, the pieces will clump together when baking. Also, don’t overmix the batter. Once all the phyllo has been added and mixed together, you’re all good! The cake batter will thicken once the phyllo is added.
STEP 10: Grease a 9″x 13″ baking dish with one tablespoon of unsalted butter. Pour the cake batter mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
STEP 11: Place the cake into your preheated oven and bake at 350 F for about 40-45 minutes. Your home will be filled with a fragrant orange and cinnamon scent. You can pierce the cake with a knife as it gets closer to the 35-40 minute mark. If the knife comes out clean (no batter on it), you’ll know it’s done. For best results, try not to overbake the cake.
STEP 12: Remove the cake from the oven and immediately spoon the orange syrup over the cake while the cake is still warm in the baking dish. The syrup will be cool, and the cake will be hot. The contrast in temperatures (cool syrup and hot cake) is what allows the syrup to absorb best into the cake.
STEP 13: If you can, let the cake sit for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the cake to absorb all of the sweet orange syrup— there’s no need to transfer the cake to a cooling rack since you want the cake to sit in the syrup.
STEP 14: Once you’re ready to enjoy the cake, you can top each piece with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, a dash of cinnamon, or fresh orange slices for garnish! The cake is sweet, so it’s best to try a little bit first to see how you’d like to enjoy it!
STORING & REHEATING
How To Store Portokalopita?
This Greek orange phyllo cake is best enjoyed at room temperature, but you should refrigerate the cake overnight. Portokalopita can be stored in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for about four days.
Another option is to take out the pieces you’re serving and put them in the microwave or the oven to heat up slightly before eating, or just set them out at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes.
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Greek Orange Phyllo Cake (Portokalopita)
- 1 package of phyllo sheets 454 grams/ 1 lb./16 oz
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup 5% plain Greek yogurt
- 4 large navel oranges for orange juice and orange zest
- 3/4 cup mazola oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ¼ cups fresh orange juice
- orange zest from 4 oranges
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda mix with 1 tablespoon of orange juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 large navel oranges about 1 cup of fresh orange juice
- orange zest from the 2 oranges
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice added at the end
- Small saucepan
- Two large bowls
- Citrus zester
- Electric hand whisk whisk, or electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment
- 9 ” x 13″ baking dish
- Open the phyllo box and remove the phyllo sheets from the plastic. Spread out the phyllo sheets on a clean large surface. Allow the phyllo sheets to dry out for about an hour and a half at room temperature. For quicker results, you can place the phyllo sheets on a baking tray and place them in the oven for 25 minutes on bake at 200 degrees F.
- In a small saucepan prepare the orange syrup. Zest two oranges and get the juice from those two oranges. Set aside the orange juice and zest separately. Combine the water, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla together and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add in the lemon juice at the end, remove it from the heat, and set the syrup aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to bake at 350 degrees F.
- Zest 4 oranges and get the juice from those 4 oranges. Set aside the zest and orange juice separately.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla for a few minutes or until the mixture is pale yellow and frothy. If you don't have an electric mixer then you can use a whisk.
- Add in the Greek yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, and oil and mix with a regular whisk.
- In a small glass bowl, mix together half a teaspoon of baking soda with 1-2 tablespoons of orange juice. The mixture should slightly fizz. Add it to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix well. If it doesn't fiz then your baking soda may be expired. It's best to use a new box of baking soda.
- Once the phyllo sheets are dry, use your hands to break the phyllo sheets apart into small pieces and place them in a separate bowl
- Gradually add a handful of the phyllo pieces to the wet ingredients. Mix well in between with a large spoon or spatula. Repeat this process until all of the phyllo has been added to the bowl with the wet ingredients.
- Grease a 9"x13" baking dish with a tablespoon of unsalted butter.
- Pour the cake mixture into the baking dish. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
- Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40-45 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and pour the cooled orange syrup evenly over the warm cake while the cake is still in the baking dish
- Let the cake sit with the syrup for at least 2 hours to allow the cake to absorb all the flavours from the orange syrup
- You can garnish the cake with fresh orange slices, and a dash of cinnamon, or serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
- If you're drying out the phyllo sheets at room temperature then the prep time will be longer. Another option is to dry the phyllo sheets at room temperature overnight or place the phyllo sheets on a baking tray in a warm oven for 25 minutes
- When adding the dry phyllo pieces to the bowl with the wet ingredients, try not to add too much phyllo at once otherwise the phyllo will stick together in the batter
- If you're short on time, you can place the phyllo sheets on a baking tray in a warm oven for about 25 minutes
- The amount of juice from each orange can vary so It's a good idea to have a small bottle of no pulp orange juice on hand just in case you need some extra orange juice
Date Published: January 31, 2022