Friday, 21 August 2015


“Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.” - Louise Fresco

A recipe from the Greek Ionian island of Lefkas. This cake was often prepared for New Year’s Eve ( with a golden coin hidden in one of the pieces so the lucky finder would have good luck for the whole of the New Year), or alternatively it was baked for festive occasions such as weddings, baptisms and saints' feast days.

3 water glassfuls (900 mL) of vegetable oil
3 water glassfuls (900 mL) of water
2 water glassfuls of sugar
1 kg flour (approx.), mixed with,
1 cup fine semolina
1 stick of cinnamon
Ground cloves and cinnamon to taste
Sesame seeds
Blanched almonds (whole)

Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan and once it starts boiling, add the cinnamon stick and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat but keep warm. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Reserve about 1/3 cup of oil and empty the rest into a large saucepan and heat until it is very hot. Reduce the heat to medium.
Prepare a round, 32 cm baking tray by oiling the bottom and sides with the reserved oil and sprinkle all over with sesame seeds. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Add the flour/semolina mixture into the heated oil, little by little and keep stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula. This will become progressively more arduous as the mixture sets. Keep stirring until the mixture is a golden brown colour.
Add little by little the hot sugar syrup into the oil/flour mixture, taking care as everything is hot and the mixture will bubble up. Keep stirring until all of the syrup is added.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray and press down so that it becomes level. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the surface and with a knife score the surface in a diamond pattern as shown above.
Place a blanched almond in the centre of each diamond.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200˚C for 15 minutes and then lower the heat to 180˚C and bake for a further 40-45 minutes.
Test if it is cooked by driving a skewer in the centre and seeing if it comes out clean. The cake should also be easily dislodged from the sides of the baking tray.
Remove from the oven once cooked and sprinkle the surface with a mixture of ground cinnamon, cloves and a couple of tablespoonfuls of caster sugar.
Leave to cool and cut into diamond shapes as scored.

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  1. I am so curious, Nicholas, as to the consistency of this cake. Is is cake-like or more chewy cookie bar-like? It has no leavening, so what happens as it bakes?

    1. The texture is part of its appeal, Susan. It is rather dense, yet yielding to the tooth. Rather like a more friable version of Turkish delight. A very unusual cake, but consume in small quantities, it is very rich.