Fanouropita is a traditional Greek olive oil cake, made in honour of St Fanourios. The saint’s name, Fanourios, comes from the Greek word fanerono, which means to reveal; and this is where this cake’s name, fanouropita, comes from.
St Fanourios is celebrated on the 27th of August every year. On this day, many Greeks bake Fanouropites and take them to church to be blessed. The legend has it that these are in memory of the saint’s mother, who was a harsh woman, and whose salvation the Saint (and by extension the bakers) ask. So when one bakes the cake, one needs to say “God forgive the mother of St Fanourios”. Which is something I did not do, as I only found out about it during my research for this piece. So please, when you bake this cake, do it for me as well.
But fanouropita is also baked asking the saint to reveal items that are missing, or to bring people something that they want: Good health or “a good husband”, if one is single. So even though it is not August (yet!), this week we decided to make this cake and ask for health, and for finally being able to see, share food and hug our loved ones.
It is important to know that this cake is to be made with only seven or nine ingredients, symbolic numbers in Greek religion. Apart from the 7 key ingredients, we’ve added our delicious Corinth raisins and walnuts. The result is a rich and moist cake- and vegan! You can make it with sunflower oil, but we feel that the olive oil gives it a more robust flavour, so do give it a try!
150g super-fine white sugar
150g olive oil
350ml orange juice (from 3-4 oranges) and zest from 2 oranges
½ tsp baking soda
400g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsps cinnamon
50g Corinth raisins
Preheat your oven at 170C.
In a large bowl sieve the flour, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk the sugar and olive oil together until very well combined.
Mix the orange juice and zest and stir in the baking soda. Be careful as it will bubble. Slowly add to the olive oil-sugar mixture.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, until just combined (you do not want to overmix the flour). Add the raisins and walnuts and give it one final stir.
Your batter should look like a loose cake batter. Place it in an oiled baking tin and bake at 170C at the bottom rack for an hour, or until your knife comes up clean from the middle of the cake.
Remove from the oven and let your fanouropita cool in its tin. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.