ORIGINS OF FANOUROPITA
Fanouropita (pronounced Fa-nu-ró-peeh-ta) is a vegan spiced orange cake that is made in honour of St Fanourios, the Saint of all things lost, on the 27th of August. When translated, his name means “to reveal”. So as tradition states on the 26th of August day, we bake fanouropita and take it to church the next day to be blessed. We then cut pieces of it to give out to all who attended and each person prays for something they have lost to be found.
The recipe for this fanouropita is one my late mother wrote. In her stained handwritten notebook, there are abundant traditional and non-traditional recipes. However, a lot of the recipes just have the ingredients listed and they themselves are quite ambiguous at times without listing amounts. Although I wish I had the full recipe there was something special about recipe testing this fanouropita. It felt like we were working together in the kitchen again.
Fanouropita is not only eaten on St Fanourio’s Feast Day, it can be made at any time. As mentioned above, when you want to find something that has been missing you bake it and pray to St Fanourio to reveal it to you. It is a fasting/vegan cake so a lot of people also make it during Lent. I’m sure you will love the end result if you end up making it. It turns out perfect each time and very moist! Easily enjoyed as a sweet or breakfast option with your morning coffee!
Traditionally, the ingredients for this cake need to add up to an odd number, 7, 9 or 11. Hence, there are a few variations to the fanouropita recipes, but the main common ingredients are: oil (I use extra virgin olive oil), ground cinnamon and orange juice. The raisins and/or walnuts are omitted in some cases but I like to add them as they give the cake more texture. The recipe below has 11 ingredients, if you want to make it with less you may omit the lemon zest and icing sugar.
ASSEMBLY AND PREPARATION TIPS
The preparation for the fanouropita is all done in one bowl. Firstly, you need to measure the ingredients as accurate as possible using a kitchen scale. Secondly, you just need to mix the ingredients in one bowl but in a certain order so that everything combines well, rather than pouring all the ingredients at once.
Two important points that you should consider when mixing the cake batter:
1. The baking soda needs to be activated and dissolved before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients otherwise there will be white spots in the cake. Baking soda is an alkaline substance so when mixed with the acidic orange juice it reacts and froths. Just ensure the baking soda is completely dissolved by stirring it once you add the orange juice.
2. Ensure that the sugar is dissolved with the liquids well, otherwise the sugar grains will remain and the cake will end up grainy. You can use a stick blender as it is very quick, otherwise you can use a handheld whisk.
USING A SMALLER BAKING DISH
I’ve recipe tested the fanouropita in my 24cm diameter round springform in case you don’t have a similar rectangular dish to what I listed in my original version below. The ingredient ratios change to accommodate for the different measurements that the springform has in comparison to the rectangular dish, in order to cook properly. The method to follow though is exactly the same as what is outlined in the recipe further down, besides the slightly reduced time of 55min.
• 9 g baking soda, 1 ½ tsp
• 400 mL orange juice, strained, see notes1
• 200 mL tap water, at room temperature
• 300 mL extra virgin olive oil
• 5 g ground cinnamon, 1 ½ tsp
• 1 tsp lemon or orange zest
• 160 g caster sugar
• 560 g plain flour, sifted
• 80 g raisins
• 150 g walnuts, coarsely chopped
• icing sugar, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C fan forced. Add the baking soda and then pour the orange juice in a large bowl. It will start to froth, just mix it to ensure all the baking soda is dissolved otherwise you will end up with white spots in the cake.
2. Continue to pour in the water, extra virgin olive oil, cinnamon, lemon zest and sugar and whisk until the sugar has been dissolved. Add the flour in the bowl in small batches, while mixing with a whisk or a handheld, mixer to help combine it with the liquids. Continue until all the flour is incorporated. Then fold in the raisins and walnuts.
3. Spray the baking dish with some oil all around or you may choose to line it with baking paper. I used a rectangular baking dish measuring 26x21x5cm in size, see notes2. Place the baking dish on the middle rack in the oven for 60-65min or until it is cooked through.
4. Let it rest in the baking tray for 10min and then turn it over on a cooling rack. If there are cracks, turn the cake with that side facing down so it is smooth on the top. Wait for it to completely cool down before you dust some icing sugar on top and serve. I store the cake in an airtight container in a dry cool place, usually the pantry, for up to 5 days.
1. As an indication I needed 5 small oranges but that may vary depending on the juiciness of oranges used.
2. If the baking dish you use is larger, then the cake may bake faster due to the increase in surface area to volume ratio, so keep that in mind.