If I had to pick one Greek dessert that I loved above all others, this would be it. The filling reminds me of cakes made with marzipan, and if it makes me think of marzipan, then it has to be good! This dessert was created in honor of the Danish prince who, in 1862, became King George I of Greece. (Kopenhai is named for Copenhagen, the capital of his native Denmark.) My mother got this recipe from an old family friend from Chicago. The idea of working with filo can be scary, but it really is easy – especially when you are only using it in layers in a pan. It is so easy that my daughter demonstrated making this dessert at a local Greek festival, after only one practice session with filo.
Cake: 6 oz. blanched almonds, ground fine
1/2 lb. melted butter, unsalted
2 c. sugar
1 c. bread crumbs (Panko works well)
1/2 oz. brandy
7 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 lb. filo, defrosted
Syrup: 2 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 t. lemon juice
Make the syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil, then allow to simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice, stir, allow to cool, then refrigerate.
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 375°F. Separate the eggs; beat the egg whites until the peaks just stand up. In a mixer, beat egg yolks and add sugar slowly until the mixture is fluffy and light. Then add the brandy. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large spoon, fold in the whites, alternating with the bread crumbs and almonds. Mix well.
Butter a large (13″ x 9″ x 2″) Pyrex dish or metal pan. Use half of the filo for the bottom, separately fitting and placing each sheet, and buttering it before layering the next sheet. Pour the mixture on top of the layers of filo. Then continue layering and buttering the remaining sheets over the top of the mixture. Cut the top layers of filo down the middle (the long way) with a sharp knife before cooking. Bake for 30-40 mins. Pour the cold syrup over the hot cooked cake. For a traditional presentation, cut into diamond-shapes.