Thea Pope’s Greek Walnut Cake “Karithopita”

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Thea Pope’s Greek Walnut Cake “Karithopita”

 Thea Pope Panos was the only one in our family who had the winning Karithopita recipe!

As a child we would visit after church on Sundays, and all I wanted and waited for was one slice of that warm honey-drenched spiced cake, that she  mastered. Often times I do think back to the kitchen smells and aromas which drifted in and out  my cousins’ homes (and I had many), only to remember memorable family gatherings, happy faces and busy hands in the kitchen. This is a great cake for a crowd, or for a family picnic.


Thea Pope's Greek Walnut Cake "Karithopita"

The best Greek walnut cake I know of ~ is my aunt Pope's cake. This is great for a crowd, and was always served at her home for us.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Keyword cake, Greek, karithopita, walnut
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • Grated zest from one orange
  • 2 Tbls. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbls. brandy
  • 4 eggs- separated
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups oil - vegetable or olive oil


  • Syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice



  1. Mix the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  2. With a mixer, beat the egg whites until fluffy. Place in a bowl.
  3. With the mixer beat the egg yolks and white sugar until light in color and creamy.
  4. Add the milk and oil. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Place the baking powder in a bowl , and mix in the 1/2 cup orange juice. Add to mixture and beat for 2 minutes on low.
  6. Add the brandy and zest.
  7. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until all the ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix.
  8. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
  9. Fold in the egg whites.
  10. Fold in the nuts.
  11. Grease an 8x11 size baking pan.
  12. Add the batter. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Test with a toothpick.


  1. Place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil about 15 minutes.
  2. Let cool, and add to hot cake.
  3. When the cake comes out of the oven add the syrup. Let the cake sit for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note: Bake cake in the lower third of your oven to avoid the center from falling.
In the meantime, make the syrup.



My mother's old baking pan.

My mother’s old baking pan.

This is a very traditional cake made in our family for years during the holidays. You may want to try other traditional desserts from our family recipe book :

Greek Butter Cookies Kourambiethes

Melomakarona Honey Drenched Spice Cookies

Happy Holidays,




© 2011 – 2024, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wendy Woolf

Looks amazing, Mary!

2 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Thanks Wendy! It will be your next Birthday cake!

3 Ann Fowler

Mary, I made this for my family and they LOVED it! Thanks so much for sharing, we all appreciate this recipe!

4 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Wonderful! Just what my aunt would have love tohear!
Thanks for following!xoxoMary

5 Chef Chuck

Wow! This is one I need to try… Thank you for sharing:)
~ I love Greek Food ~

6 Kat

This looks amazing and I’m definitely going to give this a go today. Quick question – the recipe calls for oil, but is it extra virgin olive oil or any olive oil or regular oil?

7 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Kat the oil can be vegetable or a very light olive oil. I added it to the recipe-thanks!

8 bernadette

Does this cake freeze well? Any tips?

9 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Yes it does freeze well. I freeze everything before it’s baked. Then, I just bake it for a longer time since it’s frozen. I then pour the syrup on top. Good Luck,

10 Shelley

I am on vacation on the greek island of Kefalonia and I had this dessert the other night for the first time. It’s amazing and I was looking for this recipe to take home with me. Thank you for sharing!!!!

11 Trish

just checking – is there 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar AND 1 1/2 cups regular granulated sugar (together, 3 cups sugar) in the recipe? the instructions only mention the brown sugar but list includes both!
thank you!

12 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Trish, This is a very sweet cake. It’s intended to be eaten in very small portions. The brown sugar goes in the cake. The white sugar in the syrup. Thank you, I’ll make it more clear.

13 Sophie

I have to tell you that I made this cake last weekend and gave it away to members of my Greek family and they all raved about it. It even got 5 stars from my 92 year old chef dad! I am making it again this weekend and am going to share it with even more loved ones. This is a keeper recipe that I will cherish always. Thank you so much for sharing it. My search for the perfect Karithopita recipe is over 🙂

14 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Thank you Sophie!
It’s a family recipe from my aunt, and as I child I remember it was my favorite dessert she made us.
Enjoy, Mary

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