A few years ago I stayed on the lovely island of Milos in the village of Plaka. I visited the local pastry shop most days, Paleos Pastry, and one day, on their recommendation I came home with a piece of orange cake, which in retrospect, I think may have Portokalopita. It was drenched with syrup, intensely orange flavoured, but I found it to be very, very sweet.

I've never made Portokalopita before but a few years ago I bookmarked a recipe and it was high on my list of things to make. Portokalopita is made with filo pastry not flour and after it comes out of the oven, it's doused with cold citrus flavoured syrup. thought if I made a lemon flavoured version, Lemonopita, it might not be so sweet. I had half a packet of filo left over from a savoury pie I made a few weeks ago and as I always have lemons, olive oil and yoghurt on hand I decided to make a lemon version. Always one to gild the lily I candied a few lemon slices to decorate the cake once it had cooled down.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from here, which makes a 17cm round or square cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon although most of the ingredients in this recipe are weighed. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. 

190g fresh filo pastry
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp finely grated lemon zest, from 1 medium lemon 
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extraxt
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
125g Greek yoghurt
1 tsp baking powder

Lemon syrup
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
150g granulated sugar
¾ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
the peel of one lemon

To serve
candied lemon slices (optional)
1 cup (250 mls) cream, softly whipped 

Preheat the oven to 100°C, conventional. Lay out the pastry and loosely scrunch up each sheet and place bunched next to each other on a baking tray. Dry in the oven for 1 hour. Carefully turn over the sheets and bake for a further 20 minutes or until completely dry. Break the shards of crisp pastry into small pieces into a bowl and set aside. You can also leave the pastry shards to dry out on the bench top.

Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk for 7-9 minutes until pale and doubled in size. Add the zest, vanilla, olive oil, yoghurt and baking powder, and whisk until well combined. Fold through the broken pastry until well combined then rest the mixture for 30 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent the pastry from clumping. 

To prepare the syrup, place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened slightly. Pass through a seive, then set aside to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional. Lightly grease the base and side of a 17cm round springform cake pan and line the base with baking paper. Place the tin onto a large piece of foil and scrunch the foil around the tin to create a seal. Spoon mixture into the prepared pan. Bake on the centre rack of the preheated  oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Pierce holes into the cake with a skewer and pour over half the syrup. Set aside for 1 hour to absorb. Serve the cake with cream, the remaining syrup and a few candied lemon slice if desired.

I made this cake in stages. I dried out the filo sheets last weekend and stored them in an airtight container. I also made the lemon syrup in advance which I kept in the fridge until I was ready to make the cake. The cake came together very easily and topped with lemon syrup and cream, it was a delight to eat as well. It's 
cold, grey and wet in Sydney and despite that, I almost felt transported back to summer in Milos. One can dream

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



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