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Lemonopita (Greek lemon filo cake) recipe

Lemonopita (Greek lemon filo cake) recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Cake
  • Cakes with fruit
  • Citrus cakes
  • Lemon cake

Gorgeous lemon flavour in a deliciously different cake! No flour here - this cake is made with Greek yoghurt, lemon juice and zest and lots of shredded filo pastry. The texture is unique and you won't believe how easy it is to make.

Greater London, England, UK

29 people made this

IngredientsServes: 12

  • Syrup
  • 600g caster sugar
  • 500ml water
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 4 lemons
  • Cake
  • 500g filo pastry
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 5 eggs
  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 250g sunflower oil
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

MethodPrep:25min ›Cook:45min ›Extra time:1hr cooling › Ready in:2hr10min

  1. For the syrup, combine sugar, water and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Allow to cool whilst you make the cake.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Lightly grease a 20x30cm (9x13 in) baking tin with oil.
  3. Remove the filo from its packaging. Take each sheet and roughly tear into shreds, using your hands. Tear the filo directly into the baking tin, and leave to dry a little while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  4. Combine the lemon zest, eggs, yoghurt, oil, sugar, vanilla and baking powder in a bowl, blender or food processor. Blend together on high speed for a couple of minutes, till the mixture is frothy.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over the filo in the baking tin. Stir together gently, right in the tin, to ensure the egg mixture is evenly distributed.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the filling set. Once out of the oven, immediately start to slowly pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake. Set aside for at least 1 hour, till most of the syrup has soaked in. Slice and serve!

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(3)

Reviews in English (2)

Fantastic!-16 Apr 2017

delicious - but erm...i have to point out the obvious...: phyllo pastry does contain flour!!-19 Oct 2015

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg whites
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon (add more if you like it lemony)

Lightly grease a tube pan or bundt cake pan. (We use a 15-cup capacity bundt pan.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a strainer lined with cheesecloth, strain the 2 cups yogurt for about 1/2 an hour to remove excess liquid. You want the yogurt to be as thick and dry as possible.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.

Using a mixer on medium-high, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and continue mixing.

Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing. Add the eggs and egg whites and mix until creamy and smooth.

With the mixer running on low speed, begin adding the flour mixture and the yogurt to the batter alternating between each. As soon as the flour and yogurt are completely mixed in, turn off the mixer. Do not over mix because the cake can get tough.

Stir in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest.

Spoon the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting on to a plate.

Portokalopita recipe (Greek orange phyllo cake)

If you’re looking for a delicious, super easy and extremely aromatic Greek dessert, look no further than portokalopita, also known as Greek orange phyllo cake. This portokalopita recipe is bonkers good!

There is a thing about Greek summer that one cannot easily describe, especially if they haven’t experienced it themselves. It’s much more than a stop from the daily routine, while it certainly entails so much more than laying on some Greek island sandy beach from dusk till dawn. A great deal is about food (you knew I was going to say that, right?!)

I guess I let myself get too excited with homespun cooking, delicious Greek mama food, feasts with family, fishing with friends and eating all these glorious meals as a result, this blog post probably lost its way. Nevertheless, now that summer vacation is over, I had this idea of sharing one of my absolutely favorite Greek desserts. Portokalopita!

Portokalopita is a Greek orange phyllo cake and mega hit during the summer when you serve it with a scoop of ice cream. It’s crispy, syrupy, orange-y, and finger-licking good. Consequently, this portokalopita recipe has density you can’t beat. Deep-golden crust on top, custardy, with a thick texture this sweet citrusy concoction is bonkers good. Seriously, guys, you need to try this asap. I’ve also made a video about my portokalopita recipe. It’s currently in Greek but I’m working on subtitles right now. Check it out below!

Last but not least, let me thank the lovely folks at Pappas Post for sharing this recipe the previous days. Greg, you are the best!


    1. Set the oven at 350°F/180°C/Gas 4. Melt the butter in a small pan. Place a baking sheet in the oven. Line the tart tin with a double sheet of filo, letting it fall over the edges. Brush with some of the butter, then continue with all the sheets of filo, letting the pastry overhang the tin where necessary and generously brushing them with butter as you go.
    2. Put the ricotta, eggs, egg yolks, honey, cinnamon and granulated sugar into the bowl of a food mixer and combine to a smooth cream. Fold in the candied peel, raisins, finely grated citrus zest, flour, a capful of vanilla extract and, lastly, the ground almonds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the lined tin, smooth flat, then gently fold the overhanging pastry sheets to the middle, curling them over as you go to make loose rosettes of pastry. Bake for forty to fifty minutes, until the pastry is crisp and the filling lightly firm to the touch.
    1. Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Melt the honey in a small saucepan, stir in the candied peel, then spoon over the pastry. Dust with icing sugar and leave to cool before slicing.

    From The Christmas Chronicles: Notes, Stories & 100 Essential Recipes for Winter © 2018 by Nigel Slater. Reprinted by permission of Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

    Recipe: How to make Prasopita, the perfect Greek pie

    I have deep respect for anyone who has successfully made filo pastry. I tried once. It was the sort of activity that makes me glad my kitchen isn’t rigged with surveillance equipment. Some things are best delegated.

    Nevertheless, I love working with it.

    The Greeks are very good at pies, or pita, usually made with filo or a similar thin pastry, spanakopita, or spinach pie, of course being the best known of them all. Leeks are used more in rural Greece, where they take the place of spinach in what is known as a prasopita. I think this is even more delicious than the spinach counterpart, and an excellent way of repurposing the poor old leek for something beyond soup. Go to town on the cheese – the measurements are more of a guide – and you can use virtually whatever you like according to your tastes: a combination of punchy and melty does the trick, I think. This will keep well – it’s ideal for a picnic.



    Large handful each of flat leaf parsley and mint, roughly chopped

    Small handful of oregano, roughly chopped

    150g hard cheese such as parmesan or cheddar, grated

    Sea salt and black pepper

    Remove the outer layer from the leeks, trim off and discard the base and the tough green leaves at the top, and roughly chop. Rinse well in a colander to get rid of any soil that has caught in the leaves, and drain well.

    In a saucepan over a moderate heat, add a glug of oil and the teaspoon of butter, followed by the leeks. Cook down gently for 10-15 minutes until tender and slightly caramelised. Take care not to let them catch on the bottom. Bring up the heat, add the wine, and let it bubble up and reduce right down, then remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Mix in the chopped parsley, mint and oregano, crumble in the feta and add the grated cheese. Combine everything together well, and taste and season bravely. Mix in the beaten eggs.

    Brush the inside of a 20cm collapsible cake tin with a bit of the melted butter.

    Take your filo, and, brushing each sheet with a bit of butter, layer about a dozen layers of pastry one by one inside the tin, making sure there’s good overlap over the side. It’s no biggie if the sheets tear a bit – they’ll fuse together when baking. Once you have a good thick layer on the bottom – use your judgment on this, and add more layers if you think it’s too thin – then add the leek mixture, smoothing off the top. Take 5-6 more layers of filo, brushed with butter, scrunch them up and arrange on top, packing them together snugly, to create something of a lid. Pop on a baking tray and bake for about 30-45 minutes, until lovely and golden brown on top. Take care not to let the filo get too dark – keep an eye on it. Allow to cool once out of the oven, and serve. This will be even better the next day, and will reheat well.


    Galaktoboúreko (γαλακτομπούρεκο) is a traditional festive Greek cake.

    It is also called “milk pie” because it is composed of a pastry cream with semolina, scented with cinnamon, lemon and/or vanilla, wrapped in filo dough. The whole cake is covered with syrup. A pure delight! Filo dough, crisp and light, contrasts with the slightly dense but soft filling, that is deliciously flavored.

    Traditional Greek pastries

    Galaktoboúreko is the kind of pastry that can be eaten after a light meal or snack.

    Traditionally, the Greeks do not consume desserts at the end of the meal but they end it with cheese instead. This is not surprising since the delicious Greek delicacies are often very rich and very sweet, composed of dried fruits, and soaked in honey or syrup.

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    Pastries and other sweets are therefore most often eaten in the afternoon, before the evening meal which is often served late, especially in the summer or at the end of the evening.

    This is often the case in the countries around the Mediterranean and the Balkans where desserts tend to be similar because the influences have been mutual over the centuries, over periods when the Byzantine and Ottoman empires occupied the same territories.

    As a few examples, we can mention the baklava, the famous pastry made from filo dough filled with dried fruits, covered with a sweet syrup perfumed with rose or orange blossom water, whose origin remains controversial and claimed by the Greeks, Turks and Cypriots.

    This is a similar story for galaktoboúreko whose name derives from both Greek and Turkish. Thus, gala (γάλα) means “milk” in Greek and boúreko comes from the Turkish word börek which describes Turkish pastries made from puff pastry, which can be savory or sweet, and which means “to fill”. It is literally a börek filled with a dairy preparation.

    It is also possible that the Central Asian Turks had their flatbread, the yukfa or saç ekmeği, with them during their western migration in the Middle Ages, and that they could be at the origin of the puff pastry that we know today as böreks or Greek pies such as prásopíta or spanakópita.

    What are the variants of galaktoboúreko?

    According to Véfa Alexiadou, author of an anthology of Greek cuisine cookbooks: “It is claimed that in Greece any edible product can be used in a pie or a pastry. They are the mainstay of Greek culinary tradition and every village in the country has its own specialty.”

    Thus, galaktoboúreko should not be confused with bougatsa, which is also composed of semolina pastry cream between 2 layers of filo leaves. The latter is denser, thinner and not soaked with syrup.

    Galatopita is another version … ruffled. The filo dough sheets are indeed folded in an accordion fold before being arranged over the cream in a circular pattern starting with the center of the dish. This cake contains no semolina or syrup.

    If you take a look outside of Greece, without going too far, you will find the banitsa, the Bulgarian cousin of the galaktoboúreko, in its sweet version called mlechna banitsa or milk banista.

    And finally looking a little further, we can find some similarities to the French mille-feuille although the French version is assembled after baking with each element separately.

    What is filo dough?

    Filo dough comes from the Greek word filo meaning “sheet”. This term, known to Europeans and North Americans, is borrowed from the Greek language although the origin of these sheets is Turkish.

    The Turkish nomads of medieval times would have spread their taste of flat breads, which has evolved with the creation of breads made by piling up thin sheets of dough. The idea of ​​making extremely thin sheets probably came later, and today’s modern version of the filo dough probably has a link with the kitchens of the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, the residence of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

    Filo dough is very present in the Balkans, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, or Egypt.

    It has different names depending on the country of origin. For example, in Turkey it is used for böreks and baklava and it is called yufka, just like the flat bread from which it originates. In German, strudelteig is used to prepare pastries called strudel such as apfelstrudel, a traditional Austrian cake made from apples.

    The basis for this dough is wheat flour, water and often a little oil, to form an unleavened dough. The idea is then to spread out and stretch this dough as thinly as possible on a large table with a long rolling pin. The result is a paper-thin dough, which requires dexterity and experience.

    Since the 70s, the food industry has developed machines to make these sheets available for sale in supermarkets.

    The filo sheets are coated with butter or oil, then they can be used in several ways: rolled, folded, crumpled, spread over each other, stuffed, shaped into cups to be garnished, for savory or sweet preparations.

    Greek pastries often require long and sometimes delicate preparation times, but this is not the case with galaktoboúreko, one of the simplest to make in this category, assuming you will buy the filo dough, of course!

    5. Greek Yogurt with all the trimmings

    For those who want a healthy option, a good Greek yogurt with a variety of toppings is a classic in Greece. You can add fruits or syrups, but the most traditional yogurt made for dessert in Yiaourti me meli – yogurt covered in honey and sprinkled with walnuts.

    If you want to be truly authentic, make sure you buy really good thick Greek yogurt. Many Greeks will tell you the knock-off versions sold around the world are but pale imitations of truly good Greek yogurt, which is strained till thick.

    For an intense and exhaustive list of ideas for healthy Greek desserts using yogurt, read here.

    Creamy Cheesy Baked Pasta With Meat (Pastitsio or Pasticcio)

    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

    In Greek: παστίτσιο, say: pah-STEET-see-yoh
    This creamy cheesy baked pasta with meat dish of layered tubular pasta, cheese, and meat sauce is topped with a thick and creamy bechamel sauce to create a dish that's more extravagant than some of the simpler Greek fare. Along with moussaka (below) and Greek au gratin dishes, the pastitsio we know today is the result of embellishments added to Greek cuisine in the early 20th century, when cream sauces became popular.


    Who has already enjoyed a good slice of milopita (mηλόπιτα)? In Greece, people are fond of desserts and more particularly of this traditional local apple pie. Milopita is halfway between an apple tart and apple pie. If you are a fan of apple pies, this one should please you!

    What is milopita?

    Milopita is a cake that can be prepared quickly but also a cake that gets eaten quickly. Its particularity is based on a preparation based on melted butter and brown sugar that is poured on the apples just before baking the cake.

    Milopita usually contains eggs, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, apples and butter. Some perfume it with a little Greek liquor, usually ouzo, rum or Cognac. Milopita is not a very high cake, hence its comparison with apple tart. It is soft, and apples are very present.

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    The milopita goes perfectly with a little Greek yogurt. Did you know that in Greece, it is common to enjoy a slice of milopita at breakfast? There is no time to enjoy a delicious apple cake.

    What is the origin of milopita?

    No one can say with certainty the origin of the milopita. The term milopita, which is written mηλόπιτα in Greek, means “apple cake”. Etymologically, pita means cake. You will therefore find a variety of pastries that will end with this suffix, such as the fanouropita (a cake with spices and nuts prepared to celebrate Saint Fanouros), the vasilopita (the traditional Greek yogurt cake that is prepared for New Year’s Day) or the karydopita (the traditional Greek nut cake soaked in syrup).

    Apple pies, tarts and cakes around the world

    In the United States, apple pie is an official emblem of the state of Vermont. It is served warm or cold with a good slice of cheddar cheese.

    In France, there is a multitude of apple tarts. The Norman tart is an apple tart whose filling consists of cream, eggs and sugar: it is flavored with Calvados (apple liquor), and then thin slices of apples are placed on this filling before baking.

    Another variation of apple tart and just as delicious is the famous tarte Tatin. It is an apple tart that is baked upside down where the apples are caramelized and the dough bakes on top.

    In the Limousin, the original clafoutis recipe consists of cherries and a flan mixture. When people replace cherries with other fruits, such as apples for example, it is not called an apple clafoutis but a flognarde. The flognarde originates from the Limousin and Périgord regions in France.

    In Gascony, they make the tourtière, also known as pastis Gascon. The tourtière is generally a savory pie in other regions of France but it is served as a dessert in Gascony. It is an apple cake that is covered on the top with the remaining dough that is stretched finely before being basted with melted butter. This dough stretched over the apple cake was inspired by baklava. It is so thin that you should absolutely see through it.

    In Austria, the traditional apple cake is called apfelstrudel. This cake is also popular in Germany, Switzerland or in the north-east of Italy. It is a cake that consists of a thin dough and stuffed with large apple pieces, crushed nuts, and raisins.

    In the United Kingdom, apple crumble consists of a layer of apples covered with a sweet dough that is crumbled into coarse grains. The crumble was created during the Second World War, following food rationing, because the traditional apple pie required too much flour, butter and sugar.

    In the United States, people enjoy the traditional apple pie. But this apple pie is native to the UK. It consists of two layers of shortbread dough, with an apple filling, that is previously baked over low heat in butter and sugar. You need to make a hole in the middle of the dough to let the steam escape during baking.

    We hope you will enjoy this cake. Feel free to try our other traditional Greek desserts!

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