Walnut cake is called Karithopita in Greece. It’s a traditional cake made that is soaked in a sweet syrup and typically served at social visits amongst friends. I also used to serve it at our Greek restaurant with vanilla ice cream as a special dessert! Since my children are allergic to nuts, I rarely make this at my house, but I love to make it for others and eat it whenever I have the chance..
Making walnut flour is not hard, it's merely walnuts placed in a food processor and pulsed until very fine. The flavor these ground nuts add to the cake is incredible. After that, the cake is flavored simply with vanilla and cinnamon and then placed in the oven to bake.
I usually bake this in a simple rectangular pan, and then serve it in slices on plates. Be sure to use a pan that is deep, you have to pour the syrup over the cake after it has baked and the pan needs to capacity to hold it while it soaks in.
A lot of Greek desserts are finished with syrup because the syrup helps the cake last longer. As I’ve pointed out in other desserts, the key to getting this method to work is to make sure the cake is hot and the syrup is room temperature, or vice versa. If both are hot, or cold, the absorption will not work.
This cake never lasts long when it’s around for enjoying, everyone loves it. You’ll love the nutty flavor with sweet cinnamon and vanilla notes. To fancy it up I recommend serving with the vanilla ice cream or a homemade whipped cream. And if you want to eat it for breakfast just serve it with a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side – haha!
Whichever way you choose to eat it, I hope you enjoy it!
Karithopita (Walnut Cake)
This a traditional Greek cake, it is often served socially when people visit, and we also used to serve it in our restaurant. It it’s a great snack and can be made into a fancier dessert with vanilla ice cream.
Makes 1 9 x 13 | cut into 18 small pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Lemon peel (a strip of lemon about 2-inches long and 1-inch wide)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat them for about 5 minutes to aerate the eggs.
Add oil and beat well.
Add vanilla, cinnamon, milk and beat one more time.
Add the baking soda, baking powder, and flour to a mixing bowl and stir everything together.
Add the flour of the stand mixer with the power on low, mix until the flour is just combined, scraping down the sides as needed as you go.
Use a spatula to fold the walnuts into the cake batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared 9 x 13 pan.
Bake the cake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown. The cake should be browned on top, and a cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
Make the syrup while the cake bakes
Add the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel to a saucepan and bring the heat to medium and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Discard the cinnamon stick before pouring the syrup.
Finish the Cake:
The key to getting the syrup to properly absorb in the cake is to make sure the cake is hot and the syrup is cool. When the cake has come out of the oven, cut it into 12 pieces with sharp knife.
Carefully, pour the syrup over the cut, hot cake and allow it to soak up the syrup.
Let the cake rest to absorb the syrup for about 5 minutes. Then serve!
Nikki Glekas is the owner of Nikki Glekas Events, a full-service catering and events company located in Stamford, CT. She is currently operating with COVID-safe procedures and is happy to discuss your event and catering needs with you. To discuss further please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203.658.8659.