Recipe for a Fanouropita Cake with Bran
Blogging and reading about geopolitics and current events is a calorie consuming activity, one requiring plenty of good food to keep the mind sharp and focused on the task at hand. Since I enjoy cooking and as a break from the more serious posts on my blog I thought it would be good for me to give some recipes of foods that I enjoy and frequently eat. Today’s recipe is for a healthy and tasty Greek olive oil cake.
This is a cake that I made quite often in the past, but for whatever reason I haven’t made it in a while so I actually forgot what the original name of it was (I seemed to have misplaced the Greek cookbook I found the recipe in as well). However, thanks to a reader of this blog (tpapastylianou) I now realize that it is a fanouropita.
Fanouropita is a cake that Greeks make in honor of Saint Fanourios, who the Romans tortured and then martyred through immolation. Usually the cake is baked on the saint’s name day (August 27), brought to church to be blessed and then eaten by the parishioners. While not much is known about Fanourios, he was famous for helping people reveal “lost or hidden spiritual matters of the heart, objects, directing or revealing actions that should be taken, restoring health and similar situations.”
It seems that Fanourios’ gift of spiritual enlightening transmuted into the folk belief that he has the power to help people find lost items, to restore the health of the ill and even to help someone find employment. So if you misplace your keys, or in my situation a cookbook, just bake a fanouropita, dedicate it to Saint Fanourios, and if you did a good job of baking it then maybe he will help you find your lost item. Or if you find your item bake a fanouropita in honor of Fanourios. Either way you have a good excuse to bake a yummy cake.
One important feature of a fanouropita is the number of ingredients, which based on tradition has to number either 7, 9 or 11 ingredients. I am not sure exactly what the numerological basis of this is, but technically speaking, if you have say 10 ingredients then your cake is not a fanouropita and it will not be an acceptable offering to Saint Fanourios.
With the history and religious meaning of this cake out of the way, now we can get to the recipe itself. The main change I made was the addition of wheat bran and reducing the amount of sugar (I always find that recipes for Greek sweets are always a bit too sweet for my liking, so I usually just halve the amount of sugar). If you want you can add chopped walnuts or raisins, which are traditionally found in a fanouropita.
- ½ cup olive (of course extra virgin)
- 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon of clove powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ¼ cup of sugar (if you have a sweet tooth add ½ cup)
- 1 cup of wheat bran
- 1 ½ cups of flour
- some sesame seeds
- some brandy or whiskey (optional, but needed to bring the tally of ingredients to 11)
- butter or shortening for greasing the baking pan
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Prepare your orange juice by squeezing your oranges. 3 medium sized oranges should produce ~1 cup of juice. Remember to strain the juice. Then take one of your oranges and zest it.
- In a mixing bowl add the olive oil, orange zest, cinnamon, clove, baking soda and sugar. Mix well.
- Add the orange juice and mix.
- If you like add a splash or two of either brandy or whiskey, then mix.
- Add the wheat bran and mix.
- Add the flour, 1 heaping tablespoon at a time making sure to mix well after adding each spoonful so that no lumps of flour remain. After all the flour has been added the batter should be quite thick (thick enough that mixing it by hand will start to tire your arm out a bit).
- Grease a 8×8 inch baking pan, and then add the cake batter to it. Since the batter is thick use a spatula to spread it evenly throughout the pan.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the batter.
- Place the pan in the oven and let bake for approximately 50 minutes.
- After the 50 minutes have passed check the cake to see if it is done (poke the center of the cake with a toothpick and if the toothpick comes out clean, then the cake is done). If it is done take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely, after which you can cut it into pieces.
And there you have it, a fanouropita cake with bran. Goes well with your morning coffee or you can nibble on it as your read about the latest economic developments in Greece.