st. fanourious cake
By: Eleni Saltas
There are hundreds of saints in the Greek Orthodox Church that can be called upon for special purposes or during times of need. The three Hierarchs, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory the Theologian, are called upon for help in studies. I wish I had known that during my anatomy classes. Believers pray to St. Nicholas of Myra for safe travels. Instead of using Advil for a headache, they ask the Holy New Martyr Demas to intercede. There are saints we pray to for help in finding a job, getting pregnant, having a safe childbirth, and there are saints to help when we are in distress. Have you lost something and need help finding it? There’s a saint for that too.
Saint Fanourious (from the Greek word fanerono meaning “to reveal”) intercedes to help us find lost possessions and to reveal life paths and goals. Like all Orthodox saints, Saint Fanourios has his own commemoration date each year. On August 27th, his name day, cooks bake a special cake in his honor and bring it to church to be blessed, cut, and served to the congregation. The cake is called FANOUROPITA, nicknamed The Cake for Lost Things.
Fanouropita—rich with orange juice or zest, walnuts, fruit and cinnamon—is a gorgeous golden brown cake so light and sweet you’ll want it more than once a year rather just on August 27th. You can and should. Especially if you’re like me and tend to frequently misplace things.
Case in point: I once lost my baptismal cross. One day the slender gold cross was simply missing from my neck. When an Orthodox Greek loses something, we pray to St. Fanourios with the pledge of baking a fanouropita. Once the prayer is answered, the cake is baked. And trust me, it works.
The day my cross went missing, I panicked. My stomach turned as I frantically tried to backtrack my steps. I tore apart my room, looked in every pants and jacket pocket, and scanned every inch of my house. My cross was gone. Then I prayed to St. Fanourios and asked for his help in finding it. Three days later, my dad and brothers noticed something shiny gracing the garden rows. It was my cross. A week prior, I had helped Dad till the garden in preparation for that year’s planting. Call it what you want, but thanks to St. Fanourios, my cross appeared in an upturned garden a week after it had fallen from my neck. I made fanouropita the very next day.
Finding what you’ve lost may be as easy (and as tasty) as a piece of cake.
Καλή επιτυχία – Good luck! May what you seek be found.
1 bundt pan
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1⁄4 cup brandy
- 3 1⁄2 to 4 cups self-rising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts
- Powdered sugar for topping
Step by Step Instructions
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, use a hand whisk to beat the vegetable oil and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Mix in the orange juice, vanilla, and brandy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Incorporate into the wet ingredients. Stir in the chopped walnuts and mix together until all the ingredients are completely combined. Your batter should be slightly sticky.
Lightly oil and flour a round 12” pan, Bundt pan or baking dish. Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick or knife comes out clean.
Remove the cake and let cool for 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack.
Dust with powdered sugar. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
This looks delicious!
Thank you! It tastes great!
I did exactly what you wrote and it came out so dry. The ingredients compared to others are not enough liquids. I wanted to add more juice but my fault I didn’t because I wanted to stick to your recipe and my God it looks nothing like the picture you have 🙁 It’s like one dry cookie!
Oh no I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work for you! Many recipes I’ve found have the same or less liquids, so I added more myself in this. Again, sorry for a bad result on your end that’s not what I want for any recipe 🙁
My recipe has 3.5 cups flour, 2 tsp. Baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cloves, 1.5 C Corn oil, 1/3 cup brandy or orange liqueur (don’t think you can use this on fast days), 1.5 c orange juice, the grated peel of an orange, and 1 C raisins and 1/2 C chopped walnuts. Spices and liquid ingredients blended first and then add flour and baking soda and stir through.
It must have been really difficult losing your cross… I love that pie Eleni and I totally believe in him!! xo 🙂
Oh my goodness it was a terrible feeling losing my cross for sure. St Fanourios is definitely a miracle worker! And the pie is delicious, I agree! 👌🏼
I LOVE IT!
Thank you for the recipe 🙂
Ah thank you! Hope you like the recipe! Enjoy
I ate the Fanouropita in Rhodes this year. And that every morning, lol 🙂
I guess, it is special for the area of the Dodekanes or Rhodes, right? Because I asked some Greek friends from Athens about Fanouropita and they didn’t know it.
Have a great day! Filakia,
Hi Susi! Yes fanouropita is especially popular and special in Rhodes because that’s where the Saints icon was found. But still, many people have picked up the story of the saint and make Fanouropita!
Hi eleni, after you make the fanouropita do you distribute to 7 people?? Also is it married ladies, single ladies or who ever, I tend to get confused lol 😊
Hi Helen! Thank you for your comment. There are no rules on how many people you distribute it to that I’m aware of. The number 7 or even the number 9 is used within the cake. Traditionally there are 7 or 9 or any odd number of ingredients to make the cake, though not everyone follows those guidelines. Also, from what I know this cake is for anyone (single, married, etc) who wish to have something revealed. I hope that helps 🙂
I know you are meant to give first to seven ‘monostefanes’ meaning women who are married (once) and then to whoever else wants.
Hi Helen. My parents are from Rhodes and we have always cut the pita into 7 pieces and distributed it to 7 households. We also say “May God forgive St Fanourios’ mother” before eating the pita. I’m not sure if this is traditional/religious but it’s the way I have always done it. 😊
Ah I love that!! I’ve never heard that but so love hearing what others do. Thank you for sharing xo
We have something similar in Cyprus. We must first give 7 slices to ‘monostefanes’ meaning a woman who has only been married once, and then we can distribute the rest of the cake.
So interesting! thank you for sharing
Do you wait for the revelation to come before baking the cake, especially on August 27? Or do you bake it in hopes of having something revealed?
Hi there! On August 27th (his name day) you can bake a cake, some people will take it to a church to be blessed before. On any other day, say you lost something or want something to be revealed you bake after that something has been found! Hope you like the cake!
I actually have a recipe I love, but needed the cultural details which are perfect. Thank you very much and have a blessed feast!
Happy to hear that! Enjoy ❤️
Hope everyone has a great St. Fanourios Day tomorrow! I’m praying for St. Fanourios to help me and my son to find our way to a great new career.
It looks really good. I have to try
Ah yay I hope you like It Irene!