This lovely recipe was given to our friends at Gastronomos Magazine by two ladies from Tinos, Francesca Papagiannopoulou and Froso Vidali. It’s called “loukoumi,” a word that’s also the Greek name for Turkish delight, and often used to describe anything soft and delicious. “This cake probably got the name for its sweetness,” the ladies explain. “We enjoy it in the morning and in the afternoon, when we invite each other over for company.”
During the Lent ahead of Easter, they replace the olive oil in the recipe with tahini, and sometimes, they add the leftover syrup from jars of traditional spoon sweets, and some chopped walnuts. But the best loukoumi was the one Francesca’s mother used to make, she insists: “She would add dried orange peel, cut with scissors into fine pieces. I always forget to dry the peel, so my recipe doesn’t have it.”
Either way, this vegan treat is a joy.
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Add the oil, molasses, raki, cinnamon, cloves and lemon zest to a bowl.
Mix the baking soda with the lemon juice in a glass (it will begin to rise and foam), and then add the mixture slowly, one spoonful at a time, to the bowl.
Mix everything well, by hand of with an electric mixer. Then add the flour, a little at a time, until you have a thick, smooth batter (you may need slightly more or less flour than indicated).
Grease a medium sized cake pan (such as a round, 30 cm diameter pan), and dust with flour. Pour the batter into the pan in an even layer, and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.
Bake for about 1 hour, until golden.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle generously with cinnamon, and let cool.
Cut into pieces, and serve.
This recipe was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.
100 ml olive oil (or substitute tahini)
500 ml grape molasses (petimezi)
80 ml raki
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon + extra for sprinkling
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
zest from 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. baking soda
ca 400 g all-purpose flour
sesame seeds, for sprinkling