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Milk Street Bowtie Broken Phyllo Cake with Orange and Bay

Broken Phyllo Cake with Orange and Bay

10 to 12 Servings

2 hours 30 minutes active, plus cooling

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In “Aegean,” chef Marianna Leivaditaki tells of her attempts at portokalopita, a cake made with dry, broken-up bits of phyllo dough in place of flour. Like many Mediterranean sweets, the cake is doused with syrup after emerging from the oven, which partly explains the tendency toward a heavy, sodden texture. She recounts that it was a friend’s mother who baked the best, lightest version of portokalopita she’d ever had, and she obtained the recipe. The phyllo, cut into strips and dried in the oven, creates a layered structure in the cake that, when soaked with syrup takes on a moist, pudding-like consistency. Greek yogurt and oil add richness while eggs bind and lift, with an assist from baking powder. The cake is citrusy with grated orange zest, and the soaking syrup is infused with cinnamon, cardamom and bay for added dimensions of flavor and fragrance. (Leivaditaki suggests dusting the cake with bay dust, but we put the bay into the syrup.) If you like, serve slices of the cake topped with a spoonful of lightly sweetened cream whipped with a little Greek yogurt. Leftovers will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to four days; serve slices slightly chilled or at room temperature.

10 to 12

Servings

Tip

Don’t forget to zest the orange before juicing it. To remove the zest in strips, a Y-style peeler is the best tool. You will need two large oranges for this recipe—one to provide the zest strips and juice for the syrup and one to supply the grated zest for the cake. Also, don’t use a cake pan that’s less than 2 inches deep. In a shallower pan, the syrup may overflow the rim. Lastly, don’t allow the cake to cool before pouring on the syrup, and after the second half of the syrup is poured on, don’t be alarmed if the syrup floods the pan. As the cake cools, it will absorb the syrup.

2 hours

30 minutes active, plus cooling

214 grams (1 cup) white sugar
4 3-inch strips orange zest, plus ½ cup orange juice
3 inch cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods, lightly smashed
3 bay leaves
227 grams (8 ounces) phyllo, thawed
214 grams (1 cup) white sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
240 grams (1 cup) whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
For the syrup
  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar

  • 4

    3-inch strips orange zest, plus ½ cup orange juice

  • 3

    inch cinnamon stick

  • 2

    cardamom pods, lightly smashed

  • 3

    bay leaves

For the cake
  • 227

    grams (8 ounces) phyllo, thawed

  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon grated orange zest

  • 240

    grams (1 cup) whole-milk Greek yogurt

  • 1

    cup grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 5

    large eggs

  • 1

    tablespoon baking powder

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

Directions

Broken Phyllo Cake with Orange and Bay

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Reviews
Alexa R.
October 30, 2022
Even more amazing than it sounds
The texture and flavor of this cake are astoundingly good. I'm considering using the basic recipe with other flavor combinations, just for fun. Never would have thought of something like this!
Lloyda F.
May 25, 2022
Easy & Delicious
This was an easy and excellent recipe. I will make this again.
Leslie L.
May 23, 2022
Fun and fabulous
This is a wonderful change to heavy desserts - just the right texture and amount of sweetness.
Judy R.
May 21, 2022
Awesome cake
Unique and easy to make. I made this for a yacht club potluck. It was a hit. Did not have any leftover and 4 members asked for the recipe.
Carly J.

This is delicious and turned out beautifully golden and shiny on top. It is a really unusual texture, and has a flavor that is reminiscent of french toast.

Mary W.

When do I strain the solids out of the syrup. Before or after cooling ??

Lynn C.

Hi Mary -

When the cake is almost done baking in Step 6 you remove the zest, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay from the syrup.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Alicia E.

Loved the idea of this cake, very original. Nonetheless the flavor was a little lacking. Not as punchy as I thought it would be.

Regina C B.

I made this for our biweekly ladies' game night.... I usually make something savory, but I was intrigued by this cake. (Interestingly, the woman who usually bakes hit off the list of who's bringing what with something savory.). It was a hit! Everyone loved the flavor and flaky texture, expecially of the "crusty " top, bottom and edges. It was also very easy to make.

I actually repurposed the cinnamon stick, orange peel and bay leaves as a candied garnish for the top of the cake.

Kelley B.

I made this cake. I make many cakes for personal use and commercially for weddings and high school food and culture class. I am always looking for new recipes. The flavor is nice but not in love with the pudding like texture. All agreed that it needs more orange rind. I would be a nice summer dessert if you want a pudding type dessert.

Kelly A.

This cake was phenomenal! I loved the custardy texture and was happy eating it even on day 4. I will definitely make this again.

Michael L.

I usually love the milk street recipes but this one was too sweet and I tried upping the zest but still didn’t have enough orange flavor