As it contains no animal products at all, it is a cake which is generally served during the Great Lent (seven weeks before Easter Sunday), a period of fasting when both the Church and her faithful believers enter an intense period of penitence to prepare for the glory of the resurrection. The religious people abstain from eating foods that contain blood (meat and fish) and products from animals with blood (eggs, cheese, milk, tec...)...
Lenten foods are restricted, but they are not lacking taste. On the contrary, they are colourful, delicious and not bland at all!
As a matter of fact, and in a typically Greek way, "Tahinopitta" is succulent, spicy and sweet to please. The use of tahini adds a special, but pleasant bitterness to this highly aromatic cake. If you already like "Halva", then this will remind you of it's strong sesame taste (in certain ways)... "Tahinopitta" is a yummy, yet healthy speciality that you should try without waiting!
This recipe was originally published in Chrissa Paradissis' book "The Best Book Of Greek cookery" released in 1972. As usual, I changed certain details...
225g Plain white Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking powder
1/2 Tsp Baking soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Ground allspice (optional)
110g-120g Castor sugar (depending on how sweet you want the cake to be)
1/2 Cup Walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 Cup Candied oranges, chopped
1/4 Cup Raisins
1/2 Cup Tahini*
Rind of one Orange
220ml (1 cup) Orange juice (with the pulp if desired)
110ml (1/2 cup) Water
1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
2. In a small bowl mix together the sieved flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice.
3. In a big bowl, mix the tahini with the water and orange juice in order to obtain a thickish liquid mixture.
4. Add the sugar and grated rind. Mix well.
5. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients (see point n°2) until you obtain a smooth batter.
6. Then incorporate the walnuts, raisins and candied orange.
7. Pour into a greased rectangular cake pan.
8. Bake for about 50-60 minutes.
9. Let cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with powder sugar.
Instead of walnuts, you can use any nut of your choice as long as they are previously roasted. But, I would nontheless recommend you to use nuts with a similar taste to walnuts.
If you choose to use 1/2 cup raisins instead of the 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup candied orange, then add the zest of one orange to the cake batter. You can also add a little more raisin or candied orange if you wish.
Peanut butter, the smooth and creamy variety can replace tahini.
You can also use lemon rind and juice instead of orange rind and juice.
Brown sugar would also be appropriate.
The batter should not be too thin (liquid) nor too thick, therefore you have to control the quantity of liquid added. Maybe not all of the orange juice is needed.
Don't overbeat the batter!
Eat this bread/cake for breakfast or at any time of the day. Buttered, it's even better!
* Tahini (or tehina in Arabic/tahina in Hebrew/tahin in Turkish) is a smooth beige coloured ground sesame seed paste. It is sweet and bitter tasting, and has a pleasant hazelnutty aroma.
It is high in vitamin and contains a small amount of protein. You can find it in two varieties - hulled or unhulled. The "unhulled" variety has a higher proportion of vitamins, calcuim and protein since the seeds are ground whole.
Tahini can replace peanut butter and be used in a similar way.
(Prayer -Pic by Vasilis Artikos www.trekearth.com)