Portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

Portokalopita is a dessert that the last 15 years is very popular in Greece. I don’t know exactly the origin of this superb cake but if you taste it once there is no going back. Trust me on that. The name “portokalopita” is a compound word from the “portokali” which is the orange in Greek and the “pita” which is the Greek word for the pie. So it is an orange pie and more specifically it is an orange cake with yogurt, phyllo dough and syrup. It is an unusual dessert I must say. It reminds me of bread pudding but instead of bread or brioche we use phyllo dough. If you have visited Greece as a tourist I am sure that you have tasted it.

The base is a custard flavored with orange zest (it needs no cooking) in which we mix the dried phyllo cut into pieces. Drying the phyllo is the part of the recipe that takes a little time and it is the most important one. Separate the sheets of the dough, place them on a large surface (I use my bed) and let them dry for an hour or two. Time of drying depends of the temperature and the humidity so it may varies. It may take a lot longer or less time. The rest is just ready in 5 minutes.

portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

If the phyllo don’t dry well enough the pieces of it may stick together when mixed in the custard and this is something we don’t want to happen because there will be lumps in the cake. It is very important when mixing in the phyllo to try so all the pieces of it is separated (if and when this is possible, don’t stay all day to do that) and wet with the custard. Let the mixture stay for about 10 minutes, so the pieces of the phyllo be soaked and then pour it in a baking pan and bake it. This is the key for a successful portokalopita.Well dried and well soaked phyllo.

The next step is a syrup flavored also with orange zest. It must be prepared before you bake the cake so it will be cooled when the cake is ready. The cake must be hot, just out of the oven when you pour the cooled syrup over it. Let it cool and put it in the refrigerator.


portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

This dessert is best eaten the next day and after being in the fridge for at least one night.

It is easy, it is heavenly tasty, it is a cake for every occasion. For a gathering with friends, for a celebration, for a gift, for a sweet morning or night. Enjoy!!

portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

Portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

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Cooking Time: 35 minutes


  • for the custard
  • 450 gr phyllo dough (dried and cut into pieces)
  • 265 gr corn oil
  • 285 gr sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 20 gr baking powder
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 200 gr Greek yogurt 2% fat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • for the syrup
  • 500 gr sugar
  • 765 gr water
  • zest of 1 orange



The first thing is to prepare the syrup. Put sugar, water and orange zest in a pan and bring to a boil.


Cook for 5 minutes (counting from the point that syrup starts boiling).


Remove from the heat and let it cool.


Preheat the oven at 175° C.


In a large bowl whisk corn oil and sugar until well combined.


Add the eggs, the baking powder and the zest. Whisk again.


Add the yogurt and the vanilla and mix until you get a smooth mixture.


Mix in the phyllo cut into pieces, a little at a time. Be sure that is well mixed in before you add more.


Pour the mixture into a greased baking pan 30x22 cm.


Bake for 35-40 minutes.


Pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake one ladle at a time.


After you have done this two or three times wait a little for the syrup to be absorbed in and then pour another two or three ladles of syrup and continue this way until the syrup is over.


Let the cake cool at room temperature and then put it in the refrigerator.

portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

portokalopita-Greek orange cake with syrup

P.S  I couldn’t resist uploading this new photo of a newly made portokalopita!!!!! Isn’t it beautiful?

Portokalopita - Greek orange cake with syrup


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  • Reply
    June 18, 2019 at 04:35

    Dear Helene, I know I am 2 years late but I am fascinated by this recipe. Please share how you cut the phyllo; roll up the sheets and cut in thin strips? Stack and cut in small squares?

    • Reply
      June 19, 2019 at 19:14

      Hi! I am very glad you like portokalopita recipe! The phyllo dough should be dry before you can cut it into pieces. In fact you don’t cut it into pieces, you break it. As I mention in the text above the recipe, you should let the phyllo dry for about 2 or more hours(it depends on the temperature and the humidity of the room) before you can use it in the recipe. The best way to do that, is to place the sheets of the phyllo (separated) on a large surface and let until they are dry enough to break into pieces with your hands. I hope I helped you!!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2019 at 17:51

    Hi! This looks perfect and juicy.
    Can I replace the corn oil with olive oil? Will this change the flavour or texture? Thank you!

    • Reply
      August 11, 2019 at 11:49

      Hi Aliye, olive oil has an intense flavour which may affect the flavour of portokalopita. Corn oil is mild and not so ‘heavy’ as olive oil, so it is best for this recipe. Of course you can always make a try and decide for yourself! Happy baking!

    • Reply
      January 13, 2020 at 20:26

      I tried this with light olive oil not extra vergine and its perfect

      • Reply
        Christine Tickle
        February 17, 2020 at 22:23

        Hi, is phyllo dough the same as filo pastry that we have in the U. K.?
        It’s very very thin and dries out unless you keep it covered with a damp cloth.

        • Reply
          February 27, 2021 at 03:02

          Yes it is.

    • Reply
      Kathy E
      January 8, 2021 at 10:25

      Am I blind? I don’t see nutritional info listed. I have to watch my carbs & sugars. This looks so good, but not sure if I can have it.

      • Reply
        May 23, 2021 at 20:00

        Hello thanks for your comment. Unfortunately this desert is full of sugar. But I am sure you could enjoy a little piece.

  • Reply
    Jean Paison
    August 14, 2020 at 22:06

    My husband and I look for Covid distractors every day. This was our “fun” project for the day. He has never baked before and said it was interesting and fun. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2021 at 09:15

    Thank you Helene. This is so good. And it must be easy to make as I was actually successful.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2021 at 20:22

    Would love to make this.
    Can you give measurements in oz, teaspoons, cups etc.?
    Thank you, I’ve never had this or seen this recipe before.
    It looks delicious!

    • Reply
      April 2, 2021 at 21:04

      Thanks for your nice comment.
      I think you could find online a lot of websites with all the needed convertors for the measurements.

  • Reply
    May 21, 2021 at 06:08

    Love this. As with other Meredith, often my cooking doesn’t turn out as highly successful as I would like. But this did! Thank you, Helene.

    • Reply
      May 23, 2021 at 19:57

      Thanks a lot for your nice comment! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 8, 2021 at 03:01

    Hi Helene, would love to try this cake but don’t know what “gr” (measurement) is. I live in Australia.

    • Reply
      July 8, 2021 at 10:26

      Hi Vesna, thanks for your comment.
      (gr) stands for grams (1 kilogram = 1000 grams)
      As for converting grams to your local unit measurement system you could found an online converter to make those conversions 🙂
      Enjoy the recipe!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2021 at 22:10

    This looks delicious!

    Could I substitute corn oil for melted butter or sunflower oil? If I substitute for butter, how much would you suggest?

    Thank you.

    • Reply
      February 15, 2022 at 15:42

      Hello thanks for you comment and sorry for the late reply
      You can substitute with sunflower about the same quantity

  • Reply
    August 14, 2022 at 19:58

    Can this cake be made ahead and frozen? If not, what is the time it can be kept in the fridge?

    • Reply
      August 16, 2022 at 10:14

      Hello Jan
      I think this could be made but I have never try to do this and in my opinion you should not froze it with the syrup.
      As for keeping it to the refrigerator I think it would be ok for 5 days.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2023 at 15:40

    Dear Helene , your Portokalopita cake looks so good and your photography is great ! Saying that I have always wondered when someone posts recipes in countries other than their own and expect the cook to spend the time to convert each ingredient makes no sense. My experience is that it is NOT easy to convert and takes the joy away from making the food . Personally when I see a non converted recipe I’m at the point as good as it looks I’m not taking the time to convert

    • Reply
      January 25, 2023 at 16:22

      Hello Angie thanks for you nice words.
      As for the issue with the conversions I would like just to mention that most of the world uses those measures 🙂

  • Reply
    Julia Mayer
    March 2, 2023 at 16:33

    Hi, just a quick question regarding the syrup- do you put ALL the quantity of syrup that you give in this recipe on the cooked cake?
    I made another recipe for it, and wasn’t sure, but it was thinner and didn’t want to swamp it?
    I thought I’d give your quantities a go, as it looks a better depth.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2023 at 14:57

      Hi Julia sorry for the late answer
      Yes I put all the sirup!

  • Reply
    Karen B Ginsburg
    March 3, 2023 at 00:29

    Grams are a much more accurate way to measure ingredients. The recipe looks great. I am going to make this very soon. Looks wonderful. I had this dessert in Turkey and greece many times when I visited for 2 weeks in September 2022. Wonderful trip. Thank you for your recipe.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2023 at 14:57

      Hi Karen thanks for you nice comment!!!

      • Reply
        December 6, 2023 at 14:29

        I bought a food scale that uses grams ,ounces,cups ,or pounds just because of that ,I have a very good friend that lives in England and they use the measurements that you listed I just haven’t figured out the oven temperatures yet lol Gina

  • Reply
    April 8, 2023 at 23:03

    This is one of the most yummiest dessert I have ever tasted. Thank you so much for sharing. Can’t wait to make it again.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2023 at 14:59

      Hello Lisa
      Thanks a lot for your comment on my recipe!

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