Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Celebrations - Name Day & Recipe for Karythopitta

Today was hubby's name day. In Greece, name days are generally celebrated rather than birthdays, particularly after the age of 12. One's name day is determined based on which patron saint day it is. For children, this is a time to celebrate with gifts and sweets.

It is traditional to offer sweets and drinks to your friends and family as they drop by to celebrate one's name day. The person being celebrated is wished Kronia Pola! meaning "many years".

We celebrated by getting a platter of mezedes at a local Greek restaurant. Later, we shared traditional walnut cake with friends, as well as tried Ouzo after the girls went to bed. Find a list of North American names and their corresponding "name days" here.

Karythopitta, the walnut cake, has two versions: one with flour, and one with crumbled melba toast. I made the version with flour, and it is quite good. I don't love walnuts, but I really enjoyed this cake - though I may be partial to any dessert soaked in syrup.

Karythopitta - traditional name day cake
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 3/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tbsp orange flower water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 9 x 13in dish.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, until soft and light.
  3. Stir in egg yolks, one at a time. 
  4. Mix in walnuts and cinnamon.
  5. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl
  6. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until peaks are stiff.
  7. Fold the whites and flour into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the egg whites.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean
While baking, make the syrup:

Combine water and sugar in a small pot. Heat on medium heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, lower the heat then add the rest of the syrup ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Once cake is cooked, cut into squares of diamonds, and pour the syrup over it. It can be stored at room temperature, covered in plastic wrap in order to ensure moistness.


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