GREEK WALNUT CAKE (KARITHOPITA)
Elizabeth has been making this cake for 38 years and it is one of our favorites. It's simple to make and we guarantee that it will never go stale ... it won't stay around long enough! It's best to make this one day ahead, pour the syrup over it and then let it sit overnight. It's worth the wait!
Preheat oven to 350° and heavily butter an 8"x8"x2" square baking pan.
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 heaping tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 heaping tsp ground cloves
1/12 sticks sweet (unsalted) butter
3/4 cup sugar
grated zest of two medium oranges
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups broken walnuts
1 small lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 2" piece stick cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1/2 cup honey
Whole walnut halves for garnish (optional)
Sift flour then add baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Sift two more times onto waxed paper and set aside.
Beat softened butter with sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add orange rind and mix. Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition. Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition, until batter is smooth. Stir in nuts. Pour into buttered baking pan.
Bake in moderate oven (350°) 35 minutes, or until center springs back when lightly pressed with finger. Cook cake in pan on wire rack 30 minutes. While cake is cooling, prepare Honey Syrup.
Remove rind (thin yellow, no white) from lemon. This is best done with a vegetable peeler or zester. Squeeze out lemon juice into a small cup (about 2 teaspoons) and set aside. Place lemon rind, sugar, water, cinnamon stick and cloves in a heavy medium sized saucepan. Bring to boiling, lower heat, continue to cook, without stirring 20 to 30 minutes, or until mixture is slightly syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Pour through a strainer and into a bowl. Sir in reserved lemon juice. Let sit until slightly cool.
Gradually pour or spoon cooled syrup over cake letting it soak into the cake before adding more. Spoon into the corners and around the edges, carefully covering the entire surface. Repeat until all the syrup is absorbed. (If possible, let stand for 24 hours.)
Cut cake into 16 squares or diamonds. Garnish each piece with a walnut half to serve, if desired.
The cake may be topped with a dab of whipped cream if desired, but is rich enough without it. When removing the cake from the pan, be very careful, as it crumbles easily.
The cake travels very well in the pan and keeps well for several days covered with plastic wrap.