Saint Fanourios Cake for Lost Things

An Offering Cake in Honor of Saint Fanourios - Patron Saint of Lost Items. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 50 mins
  • Yield: 1 9-inch cake (serves 8)
Ratings (14)

Each year on August 27, the Greek Orthodox faithful bake a cake in honor of Saint Fanourios (fah-NOO-ree-os) and bring it to church to be blessed. Fanourios comes from the Greek verb fanerono, which means "I reveal." Worshipers believe he can help them find what they're looking for, be it a lost object, a future spouse, or even a new meaning in life. So they bribe, er, thank him with a cake.

But there's no reason to wait until St. Fanourios Day to enjoy this treat. Like a dense but moist, lightly sweetened spice cake, fanouropita makes a welcome nosh with coffee or tea and can even stand in for a muffin at breakfast. Traditional recipes call for olive oil (Greek, of course), but you can use sunflower or canola oil in its place, with slightly different results in taste. The thick batter responds more like a dough, so you'll need to stretch and press it a bit into the pan. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup olive, sunflower, or canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch (24 cm) round or square cake pan, or line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and the sugar until well combined. Add the orange juice, brandy, spices, and baking powder and mix well.
  4. Using a spatula, incorporate the flour in batches into the batter, continually scraping the sides of the bowl, and mix until just combined. Stir in the ground walnuts and raisins.
  1. Transfer the batter to the cake pan, pressing it out to 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 at a few different points comes out clean.

Variations

You can customize the basic recipe with substitutions and additions according to your own preferences. Try a lemon or orange liqueur in place of the brandy; swap dried cranberries or currants for the raisins; opt for almonds, pecans, or pine nuts instead of walnuts; add a sprinkling of sesame seeds to the top before you bake it or a dusting of confectioners sugar after it cools; or mix up the spices with any combination of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom that you like.

If you prefer to stick with the tradition of seven (or nine) ingredients, representing the seven (or sometimes nine) sacred mysteries of the Church, you can use all cinnamon and eliminate the raisins and ground walnuts.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 499
Total Fat 34 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Unsaturated Fat 18 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 271 mg
Carbohydrates 45 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Protein 3 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)