Karidopita (Greek Walnut Cake)


I recently went dairy-free, in an effort to see if a dairy sensitivity might be causing a few issues Ian seems to be having. I don’t think I need to tell you that eliminating dairy is tough – I mean, eliminating most dairy is one thing, but living without cheese is quite another. The jury is out on whether this is helping Ian, so I might end up adding it back into my diet into a few weeks, but in a cruel twist of fate, I’m currently still eating this way, which meant no dairy this past Sunday—Orthodox Easter. An Easter without tzatziki, feta, or tsoureki? For.the.birds.

When I was walking to pick up lamb for Easter, Tom mentioned I should pick up some sort of Greek dessert. I said, “Well, I can, but I can’t really eat any of it.” (insert sad face). But, as I was walking, I remembered karidopita, which doesn’t have any dairy in it. And the upside is that it’s one of my favorite Greek desserts of all time. It’s not that different from most Greek desserts in that it’s soaked in syrup (why mess with a bad thing, I guess). But there’s no butter and it’s really easy to make.

OF COURSE after I bought the zwieback biscuits, I looked at the ingredients and the very last one was sweetened condensed skim milk. Of course. But, I figured it was the last ingredient, the toasts are only one component of the whole cake, and it’s not like I would be eating the whole cake (in theory…). If you’re dairy-free and this small amount is too much, however, you can replace the zwieback with breadcrumbs or most likely semolina flour. I’m not sure if melba toasts  have dairy, but those may also be a good substitute.

I’ve been playing with this recipe for a while. I originally cobbled it together from two separate Greek church cookbooks. I’ve since reduced the amount of eggs and syrup, and made a few other changes. A lot of people don’t use honey in their karidopita, opting just for a simple syrup, but I prefer to add it. This is now my standard/go-to recipe. I only made half the recipe below, but this keeps really well, so there’s really no reason not to make the whole thing (unless you only have half the amount of walnuts and are too cheap to buy more from the expensive store where you’re buying the meat. Ahem.).

Karidopita (Greek Walnut Cake)