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!