Karydópita is one of those desserts that really smell like Christmas. It is a spiced walnut cake soaked in syrup and versions of it are found all over Greece. Almost every home cook has his or her own version using different proportions of the same ingredients, or using different basic ingredients; some prefer finely grated dry breadcrumbs instead of flour! This version is really fluffy but calls for too many eggs.
The recipe I am giving you is the one my grandmother used to make and happens to be my favorite. It is the recipe we still use to make the karydópita we serve at the tavern.
For 24 squares (I use a 23x33cm baking pan)
150gr butter softened
250gr granulated sugar
4 eggs (yolks separated from whites)
200gr lukewarm milk
250gr self-raising cake flour
½ tsp baking soda
50gr semolina flour (semolina absorbs the syrup, keeping the cake moist)
170gr finely chopped walnuts
½ tsp salt
1tsp 5 spice mix or cinnamon and clove mix
For the syrup: 700gr granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grease the baking pan and dust with flour. (That is - put flour over the whole surface, then shake and discard the excess flour.)
In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer at low speed until foamy, and then beat at medium- high speed until they become shiny, thick, and stiff, but not dry. Set aside.
Cream the butter, sugar and salt in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg yolks one by one, beating continuously. Add milk, baking soda and spices and all at once add the walnuts and the flour to the batter; beat at low speed until the flour disappears. Add half the egg whites, folding gently with a rubber spatula or a large spoon until they are well mixed into the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites gently, and then pour the batter into the baking pan.
Bake for 50-60min or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the karydópita cool completely.
In a sauce pan over medium heat add both water and sugar and bring to a boil; let it simmer for 3 min and, with care, pour it slowly all over the cool karydópita.