Πορτοκαλόπιτα (Orange Pie)

When I was in Greece this summer, my father-in-law phoned from work one morning to say that his co-worker had earlier described a Greek dessert he himself never heard of and he was wondering if even I had ever come across this sweet. It turns out I had never tasted or quite frankly even heard of it either but when I asked my husband’s aunt later in the day if she had, she quickly pulled out her journal of recipes and promptly began reciting the ingredients needed to make the citrus-flavored dessert, Πορτοκαλόπιτα (portokalopita: orange pie).

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to make the Πορτοκαλόπιτα for my father-in-law during the remaining weeks we stayed in Greece and only recently pulled out the sheet of paper I’d quickly and messily jotted the ingredients onto. As I had some extra oranges in the fridge, I decided to give this unfamiliar dessert a whirl and honestly, I am glad I did.

The ingredients my husband’s aunt relayed to me came with no cooking directions. The only thing she did get to tell me was that the sheets of phyllo were meant to be torn and thrown directly into the egg mixture as opposed to being lined along the baking pan as in traditional versions of pita, be it savory or sweet. So the other day, I picked up a whisk, took out a large bowl and set to mixing the ingredients until well-combined; poured the mixture out into a baking dish; added the torn phyllo dough; made a simple syrup; poured it over once the pita was baked; and well, that was it. No mixers, no blenders, no gadgets to clean and dry. Simple baking. At its best.  

And this Πορτοκαλόπιτα was simply delicious. The orange flavor was not overbearing and the custard quite light. I even topped some slices with a Greek spoon sweetof orange rind and walnuts … mmmmm, it was really good!

Some tips:
*Next time I make this (and I will make this again) I plan to leave my sheets of phyllo out uncovered to dry up a bit as I thought in some spots of this pita they managed to bunch up and remain a bit soggy. I imagine if they are dried out a bit then torn (or torn first then dried, for less of a mess) they will mix better in the custard and hold their own.

*Begin your syrup first and once it’s done, set it aside to cool and then begin your pita as it will be better to add a cooled syrup to it once it is removed from the oven.


Portokalopita — Πορτοκαλόπιτα

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
4 eggs
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
10 sheets phyllo

2 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon Thyme honey
Zest of 1 orange, stripped

In a saucepan over medium-high heat combine the water, sugar, honey and strips of orange zest. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes. Cover the saucepan and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a baking dish (I used an 8×11-inch). Unroll the phyllo dough and tear it into large pieces then let it sit uncovered until you are ready to use it. In a large bowl whisk the 4 eggs until just combined. Add the oil, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, yogurt and baking powder and whisk well. Pour the mixture into the baking dish then toss in the torn pieces of phyllo pushing some pieces down slightly to coat.

Bake the pita until set and golden on top, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, score lightly into pieces with a sharp knife and then add the cooled syrup. Set the portokalopita aside and let cool completely before serving.

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31 Responses to “Πορτοκαλόπιτα (Orange Pie)”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    ωχ τι βλέπουν τα ματάκια μου βραδυάτικα!
    και αφού είμαι πρώτη θα πάρω το μεγαλύτερο κομμάτι!
    καλό βράδυ…

  2. Rosa says:

    That looks delicious! A real treat!



  3. Anna A. says:

    Get out of town!!!! This looks incredible! I am making this STAT. We have a surplus of citrus here in Southern Cali. I love the thyme addition too. Good thing you jotted down the deets while in Greece.

  4. maria says:

    the photos alone make this pie look deliciously refreshing – and remember, all sweets in moderation!

  5. This sounds just heavenly, I love the orange flavor!

  6. Erica says:

    Wow! What a beautiful dessert!Orange, thyme and honey…..great combination of flavors.

  7. Peter G says:

    I’m a fan of most Greek citrus desserts…I’m very curious tot ry this as it looks amazing. Love the pics too Maria!

  8. This recipe looks so easy. You would think that something so beautiful would be more complicated!

  9. Looks perfect! Some of the most delicious are the simplest!

  10. Ben says:

    That is a very interesting and delicious looking pie. I love your pictures and the few posts I’ve explored on your blog! I’ll be from now on a returning costumer :)

  11. Sounds delish….and I have loads of filo waiting to make this happen!!!!!! Love recipes from the heart, no numbers to follow or directions to hinder :-)

  12. Joanne says:

    Any dessert that doesn’t require five bowls and a mixer sounds good to me! I bet the citrus mixed with the custard-y texture was amazing…

  13. elly says:

    My mouth is watering, Maria! I just love citrusy desserts and this looks so creamy and delicious. Great pics too!

  14. Peter says:

    Maria, this is a first for me and it looks and sounds absolutely delicious!

  15. Plaka mou kaneis (as I just said to Kalofagas). I love this recipe! Theikh fenete kai akougete.

    By the way, your blog is spectacular.

    Na se kala!

  16. Tony says:

    wow, it’s like a Greek bread pudding–the phyllo dough being the bread. I love it!
    Question: is the entire cake/pie called a pita in Greek? I noticed in the recipe you said, “bake the pita” and for a second I thought you were referring to pita bread :P

  17. New to me. Looks fabulous. I have to try that!

  18. admin says:

    Thank you all for your kind words! I always look forward to your comments!

    Tony: You got it–the entire dessert/pie is called a “Pita” in Greek. In Greek, the word “Pita” doesn’t just stand for the flatbreads most people are familiar with in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Instead, “Pita” is the Greek word for pie, be it sweet or savory. Hence, Portokalopita (orange-pie); Milopita (apple-pie); Spanakopita (spinach-pie); Tyropita (cheese-pie); Prassopita (leek-pie); etc., etc. The possibilities are endless!

    “Pites” (plural for pita) can also vary widely in terms of technique and can be found with filling layered between a top-crust and bottom-crust of phyllo/dough; rolled in phyllo, coiled or S-shaped; some with just a bottom crust; some with just a top crust; and in the case of this Portokalopita, with the phyllo torn right into the custard.

  19. ale says:

    hello there,
    are you sure it’s two tablespoons (and not teaspoons) of baking powder? it seems a lot.. but then again maybe that’s the
    trick :)
    please help a fellow cook :)
    thanks a lot.

  20. admin says:

    I used two tablespoons. It didn’t alter the taste of the dessert–I know baking powder can sometimes leave a metallic aftertaste when too much is used, but this didn’t. I think it’s balanced by the remaining ingredients.

  21. ale says:

    got it, thank you so much, i’ll try it tonight. your ravani recipe i used produced a real hit ;) so i don’t expect portocalopita to be any other way :)

  22. This is like the perfect dessert for January. and, if I’m having a bad luck phyllo day I know where I can use my ripped pieces!

  23. Joan says:

    Lovely website and pretty pictures. Boy, does this dessert look yummy!

    I’m Greek, too. Visit my website: I write about makeup, skin care, etc. But you write about all this delicious Greek food. Not fair, LOL.

  24. Μαρία μαο, πολύ ωραίο το σάιτ σου! Καλορίζικο!

    Η πορτοκαλόπιτα μου αρέσει πολύ! Είχα δημοσιεύσει μια εκδοχή στο
    δοκιμάστηκε από πολλούς και γράφτηκαν πολλά σχόλια που βελτίωναν την αρχική συνταγή. Ρίξε μια ματιά!

  25. [...] into “orange pie”. The first time I ever saw this dish was recently at my friend Maria’s blog, “Kali Orexi”. I have never before heard of this dessert, I have never ever eaten a Portokalopita. I was awestruck [...]

  26. admin says:

    Aggeliki mou, tha paw twra amesws na koitaxw thn suntagh sou. Thelw na thn xana ftiaxw thn portokalopita suntoma kai tha diabasw oles tis idees pou sou prosferan kai esena sto Se euxaristw polu!

  27. Carolyn says:

    Can I use grated orange zest for this? I don’t have a zester that will cut it into strips, but I don’t want it to ruin the sauce.

  28. admin says:

    Hello Carolyn! I wouldn’t grate the zest into the syrup … it may be too overwhelming. I don’t have any specific zester to “strip” my orange peel either … I actually just use my vegetable peeler (the little gadget used to peel potatoes or carrots) and “peel” strips around the orange. Hope that helps!

  29. Carolyn says:

    Thanks I think I will try this with the vegetable peeler. I didn’t notice that there was already grated zest in the pita.

  30. yves says:

    efkaristo! we’ve been to greece 3 weeks ago, i should say we returned to finikounda in the peloponese we adore the village and the people there! i think that’s the dessert Sonia our host made one day but didnt want to give away the recipe! so thanks a lot! a pleasure!!!

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