Greek Orange Cake

The Greek dessert that most Americans are probably familiar with is the classic baklava. It’s one of my all-time favorite treats, but I hadn’t explored many other Greek sweets and it turns out that was a real shame! Recently, I came across a recipe for Greek Orange Cake (or Portokalopita, as it’s traditionally known), and was immediately intrigued. This cake is also made with phyllo dough, but uses a very different process. It’s dripping with zesty orange flavor and the texture is absolutely wonderful.

This treat strikes the perfect balance of sweet and tangy with plenty of fresh orange zest and more than a cup of orange juice. Phyllo dough is separated and dried out slightly, to then be torn or crumbled into small pieces. It’s then mixed into the delicious orange batter and baked to a golden perfection for about 35 minutes. A simple orange syrup comes together on the stovetop and is poured over the baked cake while still warm, ensuring every bite is super moist.



1 (15 oz) package phyllo dough

1 /4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

8 oz plain greek yogurt

1 1/4 cup orange juice

zest of 1 orange

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt


1 2/3 cup water

1 2/3 cup sugar

zest of 1 orange

1 cinnamon stick



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Open packages of phyllo dough and unroll. Spread sheets out on a baking sheet or clean surface and allow them to dry out for 20 minutes.

As phyllo is drying out, prepare the cake batter. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and eggs and whisk to combine.

Mix in yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla until smooth, then mix the salt and baking powder until just combined. Don’t overmix.

Tear or crumble the dried phyllo dough into small pieces and place in the prepared baking dish. Use both rolls of phyllo dough, it will compress.

Pour the batter over the phyllo dough and gently mix to combine.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

As the cake bakes, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange, zest, and cinnamon stick and cook over medium heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes or until it begins to thicken. Allow syrup to cool.

Remove cake from oven and pour the syrup over the top while still hot.

Allow the cake to come close to room temperature, then place in the fridge until the syrup has fully absorbed, about 1-2 hours.

Serve chilled with vanilla ice cream.

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