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Karydópita is a traditional Greek walnut cake, eaten year round. It has lots of walnuts, in fact as much as it has flour, and after baking it you immerse it in an aromatic syrup. It is eaten as a dessert or as a snack to accompany a coffee or a tea and even as a breakfast. It is very often topped with whipped cream and even better with ice-cream. Contemporary pastry chefs have even begun dipping it in chocolate, but I like the classic version.
What makes Karydópita such a favorite and so special to many people, are the spices that the cook uses. At the very least you have to use cinnamon, other people add cloves and nutmeg and any other secret spices they might like. Greek walnut cake is aromatic and flavorful, juicy and sweet, sticky and hard to resist.
I must confess that I very rarely indulged in making Greek walnut cake. Partly because the frenzy about this cake completely escaped my family home, despite the endless hours of cooking and baking in my family. My grandmother just wasn't a big fan of karydópita, so I just never learned to love it. In the past few years, though, I tried all kinds of Greek walnut cakes while on vacation in Greece, and last summer I had a piece in the picturesque city of Preveza that made me reconsider and question my grandma and her dislike for karydópita.
In the US, a lot of fellow Greek bloggers are posting photos of their karydópitas and favorite recipes. Recently I decided to try the one from @MiaKouppa. It seemed straightforward and easy for a karydópita newbie like me, and I was curious to use my favorite spice blend from Sparoza to give the warm aroma that is such a must for this moist and fragrant cake. I also substituted the vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil to give it more moisture...and just because I always use extra virgin olive oil in anything I do. Enjoy the recipe and I hope you will try it.
For the syrup:2 cups water
For the cake:
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tsps Sparoza spices & orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
First prepare your syrup by combining all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and when the sugar has dissolved, lower heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove syrup from heat and allow it to cool completely.
Preheat your oven to 350F and grease your baking pan. We used an oval pan but a 10 inch round pan will do.
In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and mix with a spatula until well combined and your batter is uniform, even the bits and pieces at the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter in the pan and evenly distribute it.
Bake the cake for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
When your cake is done, remove it from the oven and gently poke holes in it, using a skewer or a sharp knife. Pour the cooled syrup all over the cake using a big spoon or ladle. The syrup will be absorbed by the cake. It is important that the cake is hot/warm and the syrup is cooled for the syrup to be completely absorbed.
Let the cake cool and serve it neat or with a ball of ice cream or with some whipped cream and enjoy!
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