In our latest national cooking collaboration we were delighted to have teamed up with the very talented Eleni Georges from My Family Food's Diary, Melbourne, who shared with us this delicious recipe from Cyprus.
Anarotourta is one of my favourite childhood desserts and one that I would look for when we were invited to birthday parties in Cyprus. The layers of crispy and cinnamon spiced phyllo with the aromatic ricotta filling always made my mouth water! I recently made this for my daughter’s birthday and my sister spotted it in one of the photos. She was so excited and it brought back memories to when she had it Cyprus too. She remade it using this recipe and said it was exactly the way she remembered it!
INGREDIENTS REQUIRED FOR ANAROTOURTA
The ingredients needed are quite simple: ready-made phyllo sheets, ricotta, cinnamon, sugar or honey and rosewater. For the phyllo I used a premade pack, Antoniou phyllo, as it is a lot more convenient and quicker than rolling your own phyllo.
If you have never worked with phyllo before please take note of the following:
1. Phyllo needs a minimum of 2 hours to thaw in its own pack before you can use it. That way it will be easier to work with but in this case it is not required as you are not folding or shaping the phyllo sheets.
2. Phyllo dries up quite quickly, so as you are baking the phyllo sheets needed for the anarotourta you need to have the stack you are not using covered with a damp cloth. And then work through the phyllo as quickly as you can. In this case only half the pack will be used. The rest of the phyllo may be sealed back in the plastic and then in its carton.
3. When using phyllo pastry typically you need to brush each layer with oil or butter. In this case there is none used so the process is quicker.
For the anarotourta I had the pleasure of trying out a Cretan honey made of mountainous wild thyme, gifted to me by the Grecian Purveyor. As soon as I opened the tin the sweet floral aroma really caught me by surprise. I wanted to just get a spoon and eat it straight from there. The honey was not porous so I had to warm it up for 10seconds before I added it to the ricotta mixture.
RICOTTA AND MIXTURE FILLING
Fresh ricotta is the hero ingredient to use for anarotourta. Leading up to me posting this blog recipe I tried using two different brands I found at the shops, sealed in a strainer. La casa del Formaggio ricotta I got from the supermarket is very firm so I needed the full 600mL of thickened cream and a bit more. On the other hand the ricotta from Aldi is less firm and required about 500mL of thickened cream. Overall the filling should be creamy but not have excess liquid as the phyllo will then become too moist when it comes in contact with it.
PREPARATION AND ASSEMBLY
The process of making anarotourta is simple as once you prepare the two main components all that is left to do is place them in layers. First part is the phyllo layer, for which you just bake each sheet until golden brown. Once the baked phyllo sheets are cooled, you crush them and dust them with icing sugar and cinnamon. The second part is the ricotta filling, which you prepare by mixing it with the honey or sugar, cinnamon and rosewater followed by the lightly whisked thickened cream.
I like to keep the ricotta filling for an hour or so in the fridge to give it some time for the flavours to develop and the ingredients to chill. To assemble, place half the crushed phyllo on the bottom of a deep dish, then spread the ricotta filling and finally the remaining phyllo on top. Just before serving you add a drizzle of honey and some crushed walnuts on top.
If you wish to make this ahead of time you can easily do all the steps from the day before except from the assembly. Simply keep the crushed phyllo in a sealed container in a dry place e.g. pantry and the ricotta filling in the fridge. If the ricotta is a bit too firm to spread the next day you can mix in a small splash of milk before spreading.
Anarotourta – Ricotta and phyllo cake
- 600 mL thickened cream, heavy cream
- 1.5 kg ricotta
- 100 -150 g caster sugar, ½ – 3/4 cup or
- 200 g wild thyme honey, over ¾ cup - Grecian Purveyor
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp rosewater or 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 10 phyllo sheets
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tbs icing sugar
- ¼ cup walnuts, coarsely ground
- honey - Grecian Purveyor
Whisk the thickened cream until soft peaks are formed, then set aside. Beat the rest of the ricotta ingredients together, in a separate bowl, until they are evenly mixed. Fold in the thickened cream until a uniform mixture is formed. Read my blog notes above for the type of ricotta I used vs the thickened cream.
Place the ricotta mixture in the fridge for about an hour, so it can get cold and have some time for the flavours to develop.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. You do not need to thaw the phyllo sheets before you use them.
Take out 10 phyllo sheets set them aside covered with a damp towel. Return the rest of the sheets in the packet. Ensure you seal them well before placing the packet back in the fridge.
Place a single phyllo sheet on a baking tray and put it in the oven until it is golden brown. Be mindful you don't burn the phyllo as this does not take long. Keep repeating the process with the rest of the phyllo sheets and set the aside on a cooling rack.
Once the baked phyllo sheets are cool, crush them coarsely in a bowl and sprinkle them with the icing sugar and cinnamon. Mix them until all the phyllo pieces are equally coated.
To assemble place half of the crushed sheets on the bottom of a deep dish (mine is about 20x25x4cm). Add the ricotta mixture on top, smoothing it out evenly in the dish. Continue by spreading the rest of the phyllo sheets on top of the ricotta. Before serving it top with crushed walnuts and a drizzle of honey.
If you wish to make the anarotourta ahead of time you can easily do all the steps from the day before except from the assembly. Simply keep the crushed phyllo in a sealed container in a dry place e.g. pantry and the ricotta filling in the fridge. If the ricotta is a bit too firm to spread the next day you can add a small splash of milk to mix it before spreading.
Thank you Eleni for this scrumptious dessert from Cyprus! For more delicious recipes like these visit www.myfamilysfooddiary.com