This recipe appears in various renditions throughout several of the Cyclades. In Syros, it is baked without the addition of flour. Elsewhere, as in Tinos, for example, where the cake is called tyropita hyti “poured” — semolina is added to help bind the cheese and the pie is garnished with sesame seeds.—Diane Kochilas
2 pounds unsalted fresh anthotyro, fresh myzithra, or whole-milk ricotta cheese
5 cups sugar
12 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 scant tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 to 1/3 cup fine semolina, as needed
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Mash the cheese with a fork in a large bowl. Add the sugar and combine well. Add the eggs, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla (if desired) and mix with a wire whisk until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of the semolina and stir. The mixture should be dense like a porridge. If it seems too loose, mix in the remaining semolina.
2. Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle half the sesame seeds over the bottom of the pan and pour in the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over the top. Bake until set, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Test for doneness by inserting a knife in the center. It should come out clean. The pie should be dense. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. While still warm, cut into 3-inch squares and serve.
Recipe © 2001 Diane Kochilas. All rights reserved.