Karithopita (Greek Walnut and Olive Oil Cake with Orange Syrup)

In Greece, this type of nut cake is often soaked in syrup, resulting in a very sweet, moist dessert. Here, a citrus syrup filled with lots of fresh, juicy oranges is served on the side, so everyone can add as little or as much as they like.

Slideshow: Greek Desserts
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  • Servings: 10
KEY: Baking, Christmas, Dinner Party, Easter, Greek, Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Vegetarian, Web Exclusive, Afternoon Tea

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  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for oiling the pan
  • 6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
orange syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 navel oranges

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil and flour a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. Arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, shaking once or twice, until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Chop finely or grind in a nut grinder.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
  4. Beat together 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy. Add the egg yolks and yogurt and beat until well combined. Beat in the flour mixture and the ground walnuts.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar and beat with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff and hold glossy peaks. Gently but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the batter. Spoon the batter in the prepared cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  6. Bake until the top of the cake is golden and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the side of the pan and cool completely.
  8. Syrup Bring the sugar and juices to a simmer in a small saucepan and simmer, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to simmer until syrup is slightly thickened and reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  9. Syrup Cut the peel and pith from the oranges with a sharp paring knife. Cut segments free from the membranes, letting them drop into a bowl. Pour the cooled syrup over the oranges.
  10. Syrup Serve the cake topped with some of the oranges and a generous drizzle of syrup.

Make Ahead

The cake can be made 1 day ahead and kept at room temperature, tightly wrapped. The syrup (without the orange segments) can be made 5 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Contributed By Photo © Guy Ambrosino Published September 2014

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