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Portokalópita (from “portokáli or orange and “pita” or cake) is a typical Greek cake whose main ingredient is sweet orange, dried shredded filo as well as yogurt, eggs, sugar and vegetable oil. It belongs to the family of desserts called “siropiasta”, which are sweets that are bathed in syrup such as baklava, galaktoboureko, revani and others.

Portokalópita is very popular in Greece and is usually consumed as a square sliced dessert with coffee, but it can become a fancier dessert if shaped differently and served with yogurt ice cream, as you can see in the photographs.

Instead of using only sweet oranges, I’ve combined 3 citrus fruits for more complexity but either option is great. I only use the zests in the cake batter and the juice and pressed empty rinds are used to prepare and flavor the sweet syrup for soaking, with hints of cinnamon and clove.

I make enough syrup so that it is equal to at least ¾ of the total weight of the baked cakes, hoping that they will be able to absorb almost all of that syrup over a 24-hour period, but it’s okay if some is left over.

Ideally, it is consumed the next day, when the syrup is fully absorbed and all the flavors of the cake have intermingled. The syrup is absorbed quickly at first but then slowly, so save the extra syrup and pour it over again until the cake has practically absorbed at least 66% of its baked weight in syrup.

The texture and feel in your mouth should be fluffy and juicy. The shredded filo creates a lattice throughout the dessert keeping it aerated and spongy but not compact and the final resulting texture is surprising and unexpected !

I’ve figured out a smaller recipe that requires equal parts (½ cup each) of eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil and sugar, amounting to a total of 2 cups, later to be combined with the 4 cups of pre-dried and shredded filo dough. Since my version is a small dose for 3 cups of batter for 6 large individual servings, feel free to double it for a 6 cups version in a square baking dish.

It’s an easy desert to prepare as well as to remember and when served as individual half-spheres or dome-shapes, it resembles half oranges, which I find is a nice special touch. Topping it with some yogurt ice cream, makes it even better and if you happen to have a citrus tree, then add a fragrant citrus leaf on top for the finishing touch.

Try this easy version and If you’d like to explore additional “siropiasta” syrup-soaked desserts for the holidays, like baklava (see recipe here) or revani (see recipe here) then just click on the links.


«portokalópita» orange & filo cakes


6 x 150 grams each


cake batter (500 grams after baking) :

  • 125 grams (4 cups) pre-dried filo sheets, coarsely crumbled or shredded
  • 125 grams (½ cup or 2 extra large) eggs
  • 100 grams (½ cup) extra-fine sugar
  • 105 grams (½ cup) vegetable oil
  • 120 grams (½ cup) thick greek yogurt (at least 10% fat)
  • 10 grams (2 tbsp) zests of 2 medium oranges (or a mix of zests from 2 small oranges, 1 lemon & 1 lime, total weight of citrus fruits is 475 grams)
  • 8 grams (2 tsp) baking powder (double-action)
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
  • optional : 5 ml (1 tsp) orange blossom extract
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) fine sea salt
  • *note : each small orange weighs 165 grams and the lemon weighs 100 grams and the lime weighs 45 grams for a total weight of 475 grams …

soaking syrup (400  grams after simmering) : 

  • 180 ml (¾ cup) orange juice (from 2 medium oranges or a mix of the juice of 2 small oranges, 1 lemon & 1 lime)
  • 180 ml (¾ cup) water
  • 300 grams (1 ½ cups) sugar
  • 75 grams (1 cup) leftover juiced & sliced orange peels (or the peels of 1 orange, ½ lemon & ½ lime)
  • 0,25 gram (4 whole) cloves 
  • 2 grams (½ stick) cinnamon

garnish :

  • 150 grams (12 tbsp) sweetened frozen yogurt half-spheres (or mini scoops) with citrus zests 
  • or
  • 45 grams (3 tbsp) candied orange peel strips or thin slices


  • lay out approximately 150 grams of thin filo sheets on a baking sheet and let them dry out completely on the counter, for at least one day (or more), then crumble them up coarsely and set aside
  • zest the citrus fruits and set the zests aside and squeeze the citrus fruits to recuperate the juice and then slice up half of the emptied rinds and set those aside too
  • prepare your baking dish by buttering it and set it aside
  • *note : I use a silicon mold of 6 half-sphere cavities of 10 cm in diameter x 5 cm deep and each can technically contain up to ½ cup of batter but it’s better to only fill it up to ¾ full, but you can use an 18 cm x 18 cm square dish too for the same recipe amount or double the amount and use a 25 cm x 25 cm baking dish …
  • prepare the batter by beating the eggs with the sugar for 1 minute, then add the salt, vanilla extract and orange blossom water and beat again, then add the oil and beat for 1 minute and finally add the yogurt and beat until smooth, add the zests and the shredded filo and let the mixture rest for 15-30 minutes
  • preheat the oven to 180°C with the rack in the middle
  • after the batter has rested for 15 minutes, add the baking powder and mix well, then pour the batter into the baking dish or baking mold cavities (up to ¾ full) and bake for 20-22 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven, let cool down completely and set aside
  • prepare the syrup with all the ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes until thicker, then strain well and place the syrup back into the small cooking pot, with a lid
  • *note : the syrup should be less thick than maple syrup, ideally, you should simmer the mixture until it reduces by at least one-third of the initial volume …
  • to soak the baked cakes with the syrup, the cakes should be cold and the syrup should be hot, so heat up the syrup until simmering again and use a toothpick or a small thin skewer to poke many holes in the baked cake(s), pour some of the syrup in the bottom of the molds and place the cakes back inside their individual baking molds and gently pour more of the syrup on top, continuing until it gets absorbed, wait and add the remaining syrup later until all the syrup is used up and let the cakes rest for at least 24 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate
  • the desserts can be served with store-bought frozen yogurt or you can make your own frozen yogurt half-spheres (the size of 1 tbsp x 12 pieces) by combining 100 grams of thick greek yogurt with 25 grams cream cheese and 25 grams of icing sugar and ¼ tsp citrus zests and beat until smooth and freeze overnight into individual smaller half-sphere shapes
  • to serve, place the chilled syrup-soaked cakes on a plate, add the frozen yogurt half-dome (or a large spoonful) on top with a skewer and add a citrus leaf to decorate.