Greek recipe · sweet · sweet bread

Fanouropita, Byzantine Nut and Orange Cake

Vizantini fanouropita

Let’s bake a Greek holy cake today! The name fanouropita refers to Saint Phanourios the Great Martyr & Newly Appeared of Rhodes, Άγιο Φανούριο. The cake is baked on this saint’s day, August 27th, and is cut in 40 pieces. The legend says that St Phanourios’ mother was a heartless sinner who treated the poor very tough. For which she obviously went to hell. Her son tried to save her but failed, so Archangel Michael together with St Phanourios pulled her with an onion skin which she once threw to a beggar. But three other women tried to escape with her too, so she pushed them back to hell. Then Archangel Michael renounced from helping her and St Phanourios begged him to save her soul.

Vizantini fanouropita

This is why the housewives bake this cake and take it to the church to later share it with the neighbors, so that the mother of the saint could be forgiven. It’s believed that the saint will help make appear lost things or a husband for an unwed girl or a job for an unemployed, all through this Lenten cake 🙂 I’m not sure my cake was holy but there surely was that ‘holy’ aroma coming out of the oven when this cake was baked!

Vizantini fanouropita

They say that the authentic fanouropita should only have 9 (or 7 or 11, all are ‘holy’ numbers) ingredients though these could be varied. For example, some of the fanouropita recipes have raisins. This cake is done with ground walnuts (which I substituted with cheaper peanuts) and have 9 ingredients all in all.

Vizantini fanouropita

1 year ago – Winter Fairy Tale and Semolina Bread

2 years ago – Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee and Cakes

3 years ago – Join the Soviet New Year Table

4 years ago – Sourdough Breads

βυζαντινή φανουρόπιτα (Vizantini fanouropita) or Byzantine Nut and Orange Cake translated and adapted from will male a Greek-size (giant) super flavourful moist cake. See my remarks in italics.


  • 500 g self-raising flour – I mixed all-purpose with wholewheat flour, salt, baking powder and soda
  • 3/4 cups olive oil – I substituted some with sunflower oil
  • 1 cup sugar – if you want it sweeter, increase the amount by 1/2 cups, but I wouldn’t do it
  • 2 cups or 500 ml orange juice
  • 2/3 cups ground walnuts – I blended some peanuts
  • 1 Tbs cloves – substituted it with mahlepi
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 shot of cognac – substituted it with honey
  • 4-5 Tbs white sesame seeds – I used less as my cake was smaller


Preheat the oven to 250 ‘C.
Beat all the ingredients apart from flour and sesame with a mixer (I did it by hand), add the flour and mix until you get a homogenized batter. Grease a baking dish (I used a round silicon cake tin), pour the batter in and level it out with a spatula. Generously sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake at 200 ‘C for 10-15 minutes so that it acquires the colour. Then decrease the temperature to 170-180 ‘C and continue baking for 30-35 minutes more. The baking time depends on the size so check the doneness with a toothpick. You might want to cover your cake with foil if it browns too fast.

Vizantini fanouropita

Remarks: Peanuts are great, probably less distinct as the walnuts would be but still nice, particularly when you get a larger bit! The authentic fanouropita should be small and round but as this is a Greek recipe supposedly to be shared into 40 pieces, you can imagine that ‘small’ means giant here. I guess you can easily make only half the recipe. I had to freeze this cake in halves actually! Although I used a smaller cake tin than suggested, my fanouropita roe perfectly as baked through without getting too dry.

Vizantini fanouropita

Result: Giant, tasty, moist, full of flavours and crunchy bits of nuts! You will think twice before sharing it with the entire neighbourhood 🙂 Oh those Greeks they are masters at feeding crowds with hearty and flavourful food! I don’t know how the Byzantine food would taste like but to my taste buds this cake is a perfect tangy orangy winter treat – no need to wait for the 27th of August to enjoy it!

Vizantini fanouropita

…and here’s what was going on behind the window at that moment:


This recipe goes to my Sweet and Country-Specific recipes, to expand my Greek collection even more.

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