Greek Juicy Walnut Cake (Karithopita)

Baking with extra virgin olive oil is an excellent way to cut down on saturated fat in a recipe because you can use it to replace butter! In this recipe, the olive oil adds a rich, moist texture without an olive oil flavor and the addition of ground walnuts contributes more heart-healthy fats and a nutty, deep flavor. The title describes this cake. After it comes out of the oven, a cinnamon syrup is poured over the cake giving it a “juicy” finish.

A big thank you to Elena Paravantes, RDN for this recipe which can be found in her new cookbook, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners. I have been following Elena’s blog for many years and was so excited when she recently published her cookbook. Check it out at

Greek Juicy Walnut Cake


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus
1 tsp for brushing
1/2 cup walnut halves
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp orange juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush an 8 x x4-inch loaf pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and then line the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the syrup by combining the water, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a small pan placed over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then boil for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick, add the orange juice, then stir and set aside to cool.
  3. Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until you achieve a cornmeal-like consistency. (Do not over-grind).
  4. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the granulated sugar, and the brown sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then add the egg. Add the vanilla and orange juice. Mix well.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour with the baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the olive oil mixture and mix just until the flour has been incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of the ground walnuts and mix until they are distributed throughout the batter.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  8. Use a toothpick to poke 8 holes across the top of the cake and then pour the syrup over the entire surface of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining ground walnuts over the top, and then set the cake aside to rest for 30 minutes before cutting it in equal-sized 1-inch slices. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Note: I used white whole wheat flour (3/4 cup) instead of using the whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. I also froze some of the leftover cake and it freezes well.

Recipe from Elena Paravantes, RDN, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners.

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