Helen Goh's blood orange portokalopita

Bread-and-butter pudding  meets flourless orange cake.
Bread-and-butter pudding meets flourless orange cake. Photo: William Meppem

This beautiful and unusual cake was introduced to me by my friend Kathy Tsaples, who owns a wonderful deli called Sweet Greek at Melbourne's Prahran Market. The filo pastry is left to dry out the day before, then shredded and soaked in a deliciously fragrant custard made with pureed boiled orange, yoghurt and cream. As it comes out of the oven, it is doused with a spiced sugar syrup. The result lands somewhere between a bread-and-butter pudding and flourless orange cake.

Ingredients

275g filo pastry

3 blood oranges (one for boiling, one for juice and zest, one for slicing)

zest of 1 large lemon (reserve the juice for the syrup)

3 eggs

150ml oil (vegetable or canola)

150g caster sugar

120g Greek yoghurt, plus extra for serving

120ml pouring cream

½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

For the sugar syrup

250g caster sugar

250ml water

juice of 1 lemon

juice of 1 blood orange

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

Method

1. The day before baking the cake, unwrap the filo and spread out on a large baking tray to dry out, uncovered, for 12-24 hours. Turn the sheets over from time to time to make sure they dry evenly.

2. In the meantime, place one blood orange in a small saucepan and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for one hour. Leave to cool in the water overnight.

3. The next day, slice the boiled orange into quarters and flick out any seeds. Place in the food processor and process to a fine puree. Add the finely grated zest from one of the remaining blood oranges (reserve the juice for the syrup in step 5), the lemon zest, eggs, oil, sugar, yoghurt, cream, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse a few times to combine, then pour the mixture into a large bowl.

4. Working in batches, tear or crumble the dried-out filo pastry into pieces and add to the bowl containing the yoghurt and orange mixture. Stir to prevent the sheets of filo from clumping together, then leave to soak for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.

5. Prepare the sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bringing to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice, blood orange juice (from the zested orange), cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil again, then turn heat down to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool, then strain into a jug.

6. Preheat oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional), then line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper. Cut the remaining blood orange into 5mm-thick circles and arrange them on the bottom of the prepared cake tin.

7. Stir the soaked-filo mixture, then carefully ladle it into the tin directly over the orange slices. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately spoon the syrup all over the top. Allow the cake to absorb the syrup and cool completely before inverting onto a cake plate. Serve with extra yoghurt on the side.

If you like this recipe, try Kathy Tsaples' blood orange cake.