- 500 g baklava phyllo pastry
- For the cake:
- 250 g caster sugar
- 250 g Greek yoghurt
- 1 cup canola oil
- 5 free-range eggs
- 2 unwaxed oranges, zested
- 1 T baking powder
- For the syrup:
- 500 g caster sugar
- ¾ cup fresh orange juice
- 2 cups water
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 unwaxed orange, zested
- a few fresh bay leaves (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C. Lightly butter a 20 cm round cake tin. Cut the phyllo pastry into thin strips and place on a baking tray. Dry in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until crisp. Increase the oven temperature to 160°C.
2. Whisk all the cake ingredients together in a bowl, preferably using an electric mixer, for a couple of minutes.
3. When the phyllo is dry enough, add it to the cake mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Pour into the cake tin and cook for about 45 minutes–1 hour, until it is golden and a knife comes out of the cake clean.
4. While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Place all the syrup ingredients in a pan, bring to the boil and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
5. When the cake comes out the oven, remove the cinnamon and cardamom pods from the lukewarm syrup and pour it over the cake. You may need to make some holes on the surface of the cake with a cocktail stick to allow the syrup to soak in.
6. I like to serve this cake with bay leaf dust. Blitz a few fresh bay leaves in a spice grinder or food processor, then rub through a fine sieve to get a bright green dust that will really complement the orange aromas and looks fabulous too.
Cook's note: This is a cake I had attempted to make a few times but with no luck. It was not until I went to the south of Chania to Sougia, a magical place with a rocky beach and ice-cold waters, that I was offered it again after many years. It was a friend’s mum who made it and it was divine; light and fluffy and melted in my mouth. Using phyllo pastry instead of flour creates amazing layers in the cake and texturally it becomes something else, something new. She gave me her recipe.
Photographs: Elena Heatherwick
Marianna Leivaditaki is the head chef at Morito on Hackney Road in London. Her cookbook, Aegean – Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea, is published by Kyle Books and distributed in SA by Jonathan Ball Publishers. R620, octopusbooks.co.uk