Have you lost anything lately? Your keys, your glasses, your patience at the office? Well, fanouropita could be the miracle cure to find anything you may have lost. It is a cake with nuts and raisins that is part of the orthodox Christian tradition in honor of Saint Phanourios.
This easy to make cake contains orange zest, cinnamon, clove, and brandy. Needless to say that it perfumes the whole kitchen while you are baking it?
What is fanouropita?
Fanourópita (modern Greek: φανουρόπιτα) is Greek cake that always contains 7, 9 or 11 ingredients, depending on the cities where it is made. According to the Orthodox tradition, fanouropita is prepared on August 27 each year, the day before the feast of Agios in memory of the mother of St. Phanourios, patron saint of lost things and protector of priests.
The baked cake is brought to the church where it is blessed by the priest of the parish. Once blessed, the fanouropita is shared and distributed to the faithful of the Church. It’s up to you to share it with friends and neighbors. It is however recommended because it brings luck and optimizes your chances of finding what you lost.
Legends and beliefs around the fanouropita
Phanourios comes from the Greek word fanerono (“I reveal”), and pita, which means “cake”. If you have lost something and are asking for help from Saint Phanourios, you must prepare a fanouropita, a nut cake in memory of Saint Phanourios.
Also, if Saint Phanourios is celebrated every August 27 as Great Martyr of the Church, it is also for many the patron saint of lost objects. He intercedes with God by helping them find what has been lost, whether it is an object of value or not. Some devotees even pray Saint Phanourios for health.
The belief says that if you share a fanouropita with neighbors, friends or colleagues, you will find lost items and even people you have not seen for a while. Also, in several regions of Greece, single women make a cake in honor of Saint Fanourios so that he “reveals” a husband to them. According to a well-established popular tradition, the cake of Saint Phanourios must have 9 ingredients, namely:
– Flour / yeast
Of course, over the centuries, the recipe has evolved and is prepared with other ingredients nowadays, including Greek brandy or orange zest. Fanouropita is a cake that is often made during Lent because it contains no eggs or dairy products.
History and legend of Saint Phanourios
Tradition says that Saint Phanourios had a pagan mother. The icon that was discovered in 1500 suggests that this young man was certainly a military. Indeed, the Saint Martyr is represented as a young Saint, dressed as a soldier with a sword. According to Greek religious and orthodox tradition, he was given miraculous abilities to recover all lost things.
Saint Phanourios endured many tortures and tortures. He was tortured young, at a time when martyrs were very common during conversions to Christianity. Before his martyrdom, he asked his Christian friends to pray for his salvation. He begged them to make a cake when they needed his intercession with God and especially to pray to his mother’s soul before eating it. In this way, the latter could intercede with the divine throne so that God hears their request.
The only information we have today about Saint Fanourios dates back to 1355-1369 when an icon representing him was discovered on the island of Rhodes. At that time, Crete was occupied by the Latins. The island of Crete had no orthodox priest, but a Latin bishop, imposed by the Venetians who occupied the island, who had cleverly refused to allow the appointment of a new orthodox authority once the last deceased. They hoped, in their campaigns of evangelization, to have enough time to convert the Orthodox to the Papist dogmas.
If the Orthodox men wanted ordination, they had to go to Cythera. Three priests left the island to go to Cythera, but were captured by the Hagarenes and enslaved on the island of Rhodes. It was in Rhodes that they heard of Saint Phanourios for the first time. The three priests invoked the saint to be free from slavery, and the latter made an appearance to them. They asked the saint to release them from their slavery conditions and help them to reach the island of Crete.
Saint Phanourios went to the masters of the latter, ordering them to release them on the spot. But the executioners took this order lightly and did not execute the order of the Saint. The punishment was immediate. They woke up the next day, blind and tormented. In fear, they released the priests and found the sight instantly. The freed priests returned to the island of Crete making sure to bring with them a copy of the icon of Saint Phanourios. They spread the good words about the miracle they had witnessed and a few centuries of prayers and fanouropitas later, the tradition of the cake was well anchored.
We wish you to feast with this cake rich in flavor and perfect when accompanied by a coffee or a tea.
And if you lose your appetite, all you have to do is prepare a fanouropita.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
- 1 cup olive oil (or grape seed, sunflower or canola oil)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup Greek brandy (or Cognac)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup ground walnuts
- ½ cup raisins
- Grease (for the mold)
- Flour (for the mold)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch diameter cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and sugar until a homogeneous mixture is obtained.
Add the orange juice, brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder. Mix well.
Using a spatula, gradually stir in the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl until all is well mixed.
Stir in the nuts and raisins.
Transfer the dough into the cake pan, pressing it against the edges and smoothing the top with the spatula.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake turns golden and a toothpick inserted in different places comes out clean.