Karithopita (Greek Walnut Cake)
There are a lot of Greek recipes out their for sweets and treats but this is by far the only one I actually crave and I can never pass up a slice of. The smell of this cake baking alone gets me salivating. I love any desert with nuts and spices so that is probably why I love this cake so much. There really is nothing to this cake - very basic ingredients come together to become it. Although this is the case, there are many variations of this cake and although they most get the flavourings and spices right many times the end result is a cake that is made too syrupy or too heavy or dense. Nothing is wrong with those versions - but they don’t appeal to me. The way I like mine is just syrupy enough without soaking it so much that it makes the cake heavy. But you need just enough syrup - too little and you end up with a drier cake - which some prefer so that is fine but not my kind of karithopita.
This is a super special post for me for two reasons. The first reason is that this recipe is the closest I have ever tasted and made that resembles my moms. (And now as a side note you understand how our preferences develop many times - according to what we are use to and exposed to) My mom would make hers in a perfectly worn out round large pan which she also used for roasting her lemon potatoes in too. Her slices were diamond shaped and always served in clear glass floral etched cake plates. She hasn’t made this cake in over ten years she said and her recipe written on a piece of scrap note paper probably got lost in the last move they made. The glass plates survived the move but not the recipe. I was on the search for a recipe that most resembled hers and with her help we found a few to work with from a couple of her fav bakers from Greece and here it is in all its glory with full out measurements and all - not the usual with her recipes. (Always a pinch of this and that and just use your eye to measure)
The second reason this is a special post for me is that it’s the last post I’m doing for the year in collaboration with Bob’s Red Mill. I can’t even believe it’s been a year long partnership of doing two posts a month for this wonderful company that so willingly gave me the opportunity to work for them and create things with so much freedom to express my creativity using their beloved products. It’s been by far one of my favorite clients to work with and for. I was excited each month to dream up recipes that I thought you guys would love to make in your kitchens and I hope that was conveyed in all the recipes I shared. This recipe features the one Bob’s ingredient I always have stocked and that is their Unbleached White Organic all-purpose flour. Bob’s Red Mill flour, is a premium baking flour milled from certified organic, hard red wheat. It’s unbleached and unenriched, with no potassium bromate added. In fact all of Bob’s Red Mill products are certified Kosher and made with ingredients grown from non-GMO seeds.
I’m so happy to share this recipe with you guys and know you will love this version. It got served up to several different Greek people and it was enjoyed by all - I even got compliments. If you are Greek you know those don’t come easy - hee hee! If you love walnuts or καρύδιa/karithia you have extra reason to love this cake as it has them in it and on it giving it a delicious nutty flavour and texture. Hope you give it a try! I have partnered up with Bob’s Red Mill to bring you this fabulous recipe, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Olive & Mango.
For the cake
- ¾ cup butter room temp
- 1½ cups sugar
- 5 eggs room temp
- ½ tsp of vanilla extract
- ¾ cup milk warmed but not hot
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 1tspground cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups AP flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup of chopped toasted walnuts plus more for sprinkling over the cake once done
For the syrup
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 13x9 baking pan (you can line the bottom with parchment for easier removal) and set aside
Whisk together your flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside
Mix sugar and butter with a mixer until light and fluffy scraping side of bowl
Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated, then add the vanilla
Carefully combine the warm milk with the baking powder and soda - gently mix with a fork until frothy and then slowly add into the mixture
While mixer is on low add your dry ingredients and mix until incorporated
Add the chopped walnuts and mix until incorporated
Pour batter into a greased pan and bake for 25- 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.
While it’s baking prepare your syrup. Add all the ingredients to a small sauce pan or pot and bring to a boil, simmer for a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved and then remove from heat and allow to cool completely
Once cake is done remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Using a skewer or a sharp knife, poke holes into the top of the cake gently all over the cake. Then gently ladle the syrup over the cake and let it sit and soak up all those flvoaur for 15 minutes to ½ and hour. Sprinkle some chopped walnuts over the cake, slice and serve.