Greek pastry isn’t all just nuts and honey.
There’s a lot more to the Greek pastry plate than meets the eye. In fact, there’s really very little honey in it.
Most of the pastry is drenched in a traditional Greek syrup made of water and sugar, flavored with lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves and just a spoon or two of honey.
While the iconic baklava is layers of flaky phyllo dough with nuts and syrup, there are also koulourakia — simple twists of buttery shortbread — and kourambiethes, plain butter cookies dusted in powdered sugar.
The annual Fall Greek Dinner at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church features Galatoboureko, Koulourakia, Lemon cake, Karidopita (walnut cake), Finikia, Baklava and Kourabierdes, plus dinner.
The event will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Scottish Rite Temple, 616 A Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids. Tickets are $12 for adults and children’s menus will be available at the event for $7.
For more information call 804-8501 or go to Stjohncr.org.
Here’s a primer on the eight most popular Greek pastries, and a Baklava recipe if you want to try making some at home.
— The best-known of all Greek pastries, baklava is made by stacking buttered layers of phyllo dough and filling them with a mixture of ground walnuts and spices. Cooled syrup is poured over the tray of pastry warm from the oven.
— Sometimes called thiples or theples, or referred to as honey curls, this pastry is flaky dough that has been fried and rolled into a jelly roll or other shapes, drizzled with honey or syrup and sprinkled with chopped nuts.
— Oval-shaped cookies that are dipped in syrup and topped with chopped nuts.
— Egg custard made with farina (Cream of Wheat) is baked inside phyllo dough sheets, and topped with syrup warm from the oven. These typically are made into rolls, but also can be made in a sheet pan and cut into squares.
— While it may look like a shredded wheat biscuit, this pastry is actually made from a specialty dough of pastry strands. The strands are filled with nuts, baked, and then coated in syrup.
— A simple butter cookie, sometimes containing ground almonds, which gets a generous coating of confectioner’s sugar before serving.
— This simple twisted butter cookie is made with plenty of eggs, which give the cookie its yellow color. Not too sweet, it’s the perfect accompaniment to coffee.
— The Greek version of biscotti, this cookie is made by par-baking loaves of cookies, then slicing them and baking them again on a cookie sheet until they are toasted.
Makes about 4 dozen pieces, depending on size.
In a bowl, add sugar, walnuts and spices. Butter an 11-by-17-inch pan and layer six sheets of phyllo dough in the pan, brushing the top of each with melted butter as you lay them in the pan. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture over the dough. Add 6 more sheets of phyllo, again buttering between the layers. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the nut mixture, followed by a layer of 6 more sheets of buttered phyllo. Spread the final 1/3 of the nut mixture over, and top with the remaining phyllo sheets, buttering between the layers and buttering the top of the final sheet.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then use a sharp knife tip to score the top of the pastry into diamond shapes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Cut baklava along score marks. Pour cooled syrup onto hot baklava. Let set for several hours or overnight to allow pastry to absorb the syrup.