A classic Greek orange dessert with syrup
Mother’s Day is coming up! Although we are of the opinion that mothers should be celebrated every day of the year, this particular day is an opportunity to perhaps go the extra mile in showing your mom how much she means to you. When we were little, we would make cards for our mom; they were adorable, personal and made with such joy. Our mother would always make a big show of telling us how much she loved these hand-crafted demonstrations of love. When we had little ones of our own and they began doing the same for us, our hearts glowed. There is nothing sweeter than a stick figure drawing meant to look like you, with the sweet words of your child written in crayon. Except perhaps, this sweet cake.
Pantespani is a simple, orange-flavoured sponge cake, very light and fluffy which is then soaked with an orange-infused syrup. Greeks love syrup-soaked cakes! Less popular perhaps than karydopita (Greek walnut cake), we think pantespani should really receive more love. It’s dairy free, contains simple and inexpensive ingredients, and only gets better with age (like mothers!).
You will need a 9-inch round cake pan for this recipe.
The egg whites need to be beaten until you form stiff white peaks. The cream of tartar (which is actually a powder) will help you achieve this, and maintain the peaks. Stiff peaks mean that when you lift your beaters out of the egg white, you are able to create a peak which keeps its shape.
The syrup for this cake is what transforms it from a simple sponge cake to something more. You can actually use as much of the syrup as you like, depending upon how sweet and syrupy you want your end result to be. If you are not sure, we recommend you follow our instructions exactly, taste, and then adjust for future baking. Trust us, this cake is so good, you will definitely be making it again.
One of us is not crazy about the flavor of orange blossom water. The amount called for in this recipe is small, and so not overpowering. Still, the addition of the orange blossom water is optional. If you happen to love this ingredient, feel free to add even more of it to the syrup (but go slowly…it is quite a strong taste).
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Mia Kouppa: Pantespani
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons tightly packed grated orange rind
- 1 cup (150 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon powdered vanilla
- 1 tablespoon baking powder For the syrup:
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) water
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water, optional
- Prepare your syrup by combining all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Allow to cook for approximately 15 minutes and then set aside to cool completely.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your 9 inch round baking pan by coating it with a small amount of vegetable oil or cooking spray.
- In a large bowl combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- In another bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and orange rind. When this is well mixed together, slowly incorporate the beaten egg whites and mix to combine.
- In a third bowl combine and mix together the flour, salt, vanilla and and baking powder. Add this flour mixture into the bowl containing the eggs and mix well until just combined. You do not want to see any flour which has not been incorporated into the eggs. You will end up with a smooth, uniform batter.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake in the center of your oven for 40 – 45 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes. Then, keeping your cake in the pan, cut it into serving size pieces, usually in diamond shapes.
- Pour the cooled syrup over the still warm cake, being sure to saturate every part of the cake. Allow it to cool completely, and serve. Enjoy.