Walnut cake (Karydopita – Καρυδόπιτα)

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

Walnut cake (Karydopita - Καρυδόπιτα)

A traditional syrup cake full of walnuts and spices

We almost faked it here.  We were tempted to change this recipe, in order to reflect what we know to be the correct way to bake.  One of us is a pretty avid baker, and has spent years perusing pastry books, taking classes, and working towards making the perfect croquembouche and pastry dough.  That same one of us is also a scientist, and acknowledges that baking…is a science.  And then, we bake with our parents.  Although you very graciously accepted our parents’ milopita recipe, posted exactly as it was baked (meaning…illogically), we wondered, would you accept another hodgepodge dessert?  We were worried.  So we considered telling you that our parents sifted the flour, baking powder and ground spices together, that they mixed the wet ingredients together using a stand mixer before the wet and dry components were combined, you know… to reflect what actual baking books tell you to do. But, we chose not to.  Mia Kouppa is all about keeping it real folks!  Besides, their almost nonsensical way of baking works beautifully – their desserts, including this karydopita, are always delectable, and perfectly composed.

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

When we went over one early Saturday morning to bake this cake with our parents, we found our father sitting at the kitchen table, with his morning coffee, shelling walnuts.  He had taken a hammer to them, just enough to crack the shells, and was using a butter knife to carefully pry the walnut kernels out.  We apologized that we had not brought over some pre-shelled nuts, to save him the trouble, and he laughed, saying, “This is trouble?” And so, we quietly sat with him, watching him work, and every once in a while he would smile and offer us a nut to eat.  Suddenly, we were young girls again, sitting with our Baba around the kitchen table, quietly watching him shell walnuts and almonds and hazelnuts, anxiously wondering which of these treats would be offered to us next.

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Helpful hints

Although our parents tend to shell their own nuts, you definitely don’t have to.  However, here are a few things to consider.  Nuts still in their shell tend to taste fresher, are usually cheaper, and force you to take some time to stop, sit, and engage in a pretty relaxing task.  If you happen to have children or other family with you to help (or to watch you work), you may even end up creating some lovely memories.  We don’t think you can purchase a bag of crushed walnuts which will do that.

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Regardless of the type of walnuts you start off with, you will need to end up with crushed walnuts.  Our parents use a food processor for this task, being careful to end up with small pieces.  You do not want to over-process or over-crush the nuts however; you shouldn’t end up with nut meal.  There needs to be some nutty texture to your karydopita.

As with galaktoboureko and baklava, when you are going to pour syrup over a baked dessert, a good rule of thumb is to have one of the two hot (or at least, warm), and the other, at room temperature.  For this reason, the recipe below suggests that you make the syrup first.  It is a quick step, and by the time the cake is assembled and cooked, the syrup will be completely cool.

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Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

We have listed the inclusion of ground cloves in the recipe as “optional”.  This is really only because one of us doesn’t like cloves, at all, and prefers not to include it.  If you hate cloves too, feel free to leave them out; the cake is even more delicious without them.

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

Karydopita, Walnut cake (Καρυδόπιτα)

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Mia Kouppa: Karydopita, Walnut cake

  • Servings: 20 pcs approx.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Author: miakouppa.com

Ingredients

    For the syrup
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (4 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 slice lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • For the cake
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) coarsely crushed walnuts
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon (4 ml) ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (8 ml) baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) milk
  • 2 cups (500 ml) granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable or corn oil
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour

Directions

  • Prepare your syrup by combining all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and when the sugar has dissolved, reduce heat to medium.  Allow to cook for approximately 5 minutes and then remove syrup from heat.  Allow to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl combine all of the cake ingredients.  The order is not particularly important.  Stir until very well combined with a rubber spatula or large plastic or wooden spoon.  Mix very well until the entire batter is uniform.
  • Grease your baking pan ( we used a 10 inch round cake pan) with vegetable oil, being sure to cover the bottom and sides.
  • Pour in your batter.  Spread it around so that it is evenly distributed.  Bake in center of oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • When your cake is done, remove it from the oven and gently poke holes in it, using a skewer or a sharp knife. Pour the cooled syrup all over the cake, about 1/2 cup (125 ml) at a time.  The syrup will be absorbed by the cake.
  • Allow your cake to cool and serve it directly from your baking pan.
  • Enjoy.

33 thoughts on “Walnut cake (Karydopita – Καρυδόπιτα)

  1. Looks absolutely delicious & tempting ! I guess pouring the syrup at the end makes a huge difference in terms of flavor, taste & texture, love to give a try when I bake one next time !

    1. Yes, the syrup makes all the difference. In fact, some versions of karydopita are much more syrupy. We tend to prefer the cake less saturated with sweetness, but you could certainly play around with the quantity of syrup (more, or less). Hope you do give it a try…it’s pretty delicious 🙂

    1. I know! We forgot! (yikes!) Post has since been corrected…we used a 10 inch round cake pan 🙂 Thanks for pointing it out, and your interest in Mia Kouppa 🙂

    1. Thank you Taso for your interest in Mia Kouppa and for pointing out that we forgot to include the cake pan size (yikes!) The post has since been corrected… and it was a 10 inch round cake pan 🙂

  2. I remember my mom used to have those sane dessert plates! I think every Greek household does! Can hardly wait to try your recipes!
    Despina

    1. Yes! We all seem to have these exact plates…or something similar 🙂 So much fun to connect through dishes and recipes 🙂 We hope that you love our recipes Despina! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Thank you so much for this easy recipe! I made it and tweaked the syrup recipe. I added a bit more water to increase the quantity but not the sugar content. Instead of lemon I used tangerine and added 2 whole cloves with the cinnamon stick. It was sticky, moist and perfect with coffee.

  4. Do you have any tips for producing a flatter cake? My cake rose to a peak in the middle and therefore the syrup didn’t distribute evenly, I feel. I followed your recipe to a tee except for one thing. I used extra large eggs instead of large. Would that affect the rise in the middle or would it make the cake a little too dense?

    1. Hi Pauline! Sorry for the delay in responding. It’s always best to follow a recipe exactly, especially when baking. Having said that, not sure the eggs would have made the difference. Usually, if a cake rises in the middle it’s because the oven is too hot (it’s so important to learn your oven 😉 ). Another reason could be that you may have accidentally used too much leavening agent. Hope that helps! (and that you still enjoyed the cake!)

  5. The cake was delicious. I guess I was expecting it to be exactly like my Mom’s. Hers was very airy. She’s passed and I never got the recipe. She never wrote down her recipes. All was done from memory. 😊 I love your website, Facebook page and blog because it helps me recreate my family dishes. Thank you so much. I very much appreciate that! Mia Kouppa is the BEST!

    1. You’re so sweet Pauline! Thank you so much for your kind words and we’re so happy that you enjoy our website and social media pages 🙂 That is exactly the reason we started Mia Kouppa, because our parents don’t use recipes either! This was our way of making sure we could recreate their dishes. We’re so happy that you are enjoying the recipes, and that they remind you of family and home.

  6. I just came across your site cause I was searching for an easy recipe for Karidopitta. I looked one up in the Greek recipe book that belonged to my mom (who has long passed) but they do not mention the use of syrup in the recipe. Or my Greek is not that good and I misunderstood the instructions. My question is: Can you still make Karidopitta without using syrup? The recipe I read was in the cookbook written in Greek called “Η Ελληνικη Κουζινα” written sometime around the 1970’s. Thanks, Emily

    1. Hi Emily! Thanks for reaching out and we’re so happy you found our site. As far as we know, a traditional karydopita does have syrup, it is in a class of desserts called syropiasta (which essentially implies syrup soaked). Having said that, the cake itself is delicious and although the syrup adds sweetness and stickiness, we think that it would be just fine without it. Hope this helps and let us know how it turns out!

      1. Thank you for your reply. I did make the recipe and added the syrup to it. It was much better… tastier. I took it to a luncheon I went to with a few friends to celebrate “Tsiknopempti” and it was a hit!
        Sas euxaristo! I’ll be visiting your site for more recipes.
        Emily

  7. Tried printing, but your print button would only bring me to the top of the page. 🙁

    THIS LOOK SUPER YUMMY!!!! CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE IT!!!

    Please let me know when printing is possible again. THANKS!!!!

    p.s. I LOVE MIAKOUPPA!!!!!!

  8. Hi there, Just made your cake and it looks and tastes amazing. Can you give me an idea about how long the cake will keep for & the best way for me to store it. Many thanks Tony

    1. Hi Tony! Thanks for trying our recipe; karydopita is definitely one of our favourites and a classic Greek dessert. It will keep for a few days at room temperature, but any longer than that it is best stored in the refrigerator. There it will keep for a good week or so. You can bring it to room temperature when you’re ready to eat it, heat it slightly in the microwave, or even have it cold. Hope that you love it as much as we do! Helen & Billie

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