I like this recently discovered Greek recipe for two reasons:
- The unusual method, and
- For resolving a problem I’ve had with a completely different Serbian savoury recipe for almost a decade.
But first, this pudding.
It uses filo pastry and once baked, an orange syrup is poured over to soak into the pudding and infuse it with even more flavour. After allowing to cool for 30 minutes, it is ready to serve slightly warm, or at room temperature. You can serve it with soft, confit orange slices, or a scoop of something creamy or cold or even both.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a nut-free orange baklava, but no! Because the filo pastry is cooked BEFORE you start. And then again once added to the pudding. After baking and bathing in the orange syrup, it becomes one of the lightest, tenderest mouthfuls you could ever imagine. So it’s probably more accurate to say it’s the opposite of baklava.
The Greek name for this recipe is Portokalopita, and there are numerous recipes out there with slight variations. People get very passionate about this pudding, with the slight differences seeming to be the hills they are prepared to die on. Of the several variations I tried, the most unusual involved boiling and then pureeing oranges for the filling, which was probably a bit niche in terms of flavour – lacking the bright freshness of uncooked oranges.
Then there is also the rather divisive aspect of to flour or not to flour. Since most recipes call for baking powder, there are some that argue it should contain flour for the baking powder to act upon. I’ve tried both, with and without, and can say that ‘with flour’ might give a slightly higher rise, it also makes for a heavier pudding overall, so my recommendation is to go ‘no flour’.
Finally there is the syrup, which was less divisive with sugar, water and orange juice. The only differences I found were whether to add spice or not. Again, I tried several variations and am firmly in the non-spice camp. I’m actually also in the ‘no water’ camp, because I do love the sharpness of citrus, and found the water was just diluting it too much. And finally, I’m in the ‘add some lemon juice to taste’ camp, because I found the sweetness of the oranges varied widely. Consequently, despite the syrup bath, this is not a tooth-achingly sweet pudding, and very much to my tastes.
So having make all my tweaks, I didn’t feel I could honestly say it was still the pudding beloved of Greeks everywhere, hence the name tweak. But it also struck me that this could be adapted and tweaked for many other flavours too. The ones that spring to mind initially are fruit based – passionfruit, pineapple, raspberry, using fresh juice and perhaps even freeze-dried fruit powders to bump up the flavour. There has already been a request in this house for a purely vanilla version, and I’m very partial to cardamom-flavoured coffee, so lots of potential for experimenting.
If you do decide to leap into experimenting with flavours, do pop back and let me know how it goes.
Will hopefully follow-up with the savoury version soon, but in the meantime, have a bash at this!
Orange Filo Pie
1 box filo pastry (200g-220g, depending on brand)
2 large eggs
150g fat-free Greek yogurt
100ml sunflower oil
1tsp vanilla extract
zest of 2 large oranges
1/2tsp baking powder
For the syrup
250ml fresh orange juice (with lemon juice to taste)
100g caster sugar.
- Bake the filo.
- Remove the filo pastry from the packaging and lay flat on the counter.
- Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
- Take each sheet of filo pastry and lightly gather it, concertina style, and lay it on the baking sheet.
- The folded sheets should fill the baking sheet in loose ruffles.
- Put the baking sheet into the oven and turn the heat to 120°C, 100°C Fan.
- Bake for 1 hour until the filo pastry is thoroughly crisp and dried, but not coloured.
- Set aside to cool.
- When the filo is cold, crush it into small flakes. This is most tidily achieved by putting the ruffles into a ziplock bag to crush, although a large bowl would also work.
- Make the syrup.
- Strain the juice through a sieve and add to a small pan, together with the sugar.
- Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Mix the pudding.
- Have a square ( 20-22cm) baking tin ready – no need to grease or line it.
- Whisk the eggs and the caster sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Mix the remaining wet ingredients together thoroughly.
- When the eggs are light and frothy, add the wet ingredients and stir thoroughly.
- Add the crushed filo in 3-4 stages – if you dump it all in at once, it will clump together.
- When all the filo has been thoroughly mixed in, pour the mixture into your baking pan and smooth over the top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and a rich brown on top, turning the pan around after 15 minutes to ensure even baking.
- Remove the tin from the oven to a cooling rack and ladle the cold syrup over the top.
- Allow to soak/cool for 30 minutes, and serve as is, or with cream, ice-cream or confit oranges.