August 27 (NC) is a time when some people’s thoughts turn to baking.
On the whiteboard in my kitchen, I keep lists. One is for items to pick up from the grocery store (cumin, flour, cereal), another for items from the hardware store (carpet tape (why?), Cascade hops for making beer). Another shows combinations of people we want to invite for dinner. But the list that seems to grow most often is for the number of cakes we need to make for St. Fanourios, which currently stands at seven. St. Fanourios, whose name means “appeared”, is the saint whose icon was discovered in Rhodes in the 1500s without a name on it. He’s been helping people make their lost items reappear ever since. He has also been known to reveal spiritual matters of the heart, reveal actions that should be taken, and restore lost health. At some point since then, people added the tradition that, if you call on him and receive his assistance, you must bake a cake called a Fanouropita, and offer slices of it to others while telling them what he did for you.
At some churches, people show up on August 27 (NC), St. Fanorios’s feast day, with a fanouropita to be blessed.
There are many versions of the Fanouropita recipe. Here’s a vegan one that I make regularly, because we lose things during Lent as often as we do the rest of the year! It was given to me many years ago by anthropologist Renee Hirschon, who had received it from Victoria Solomonidou. It comes originally from Greeks in Asia Minor. I adapted the quantities somewhat to work in an American kitchen.
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup raisins (soaked for five minutes in hot water, then drained)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Zest of two oranges
1 cup orange juice (or more if the mixture seems too stiff)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
1 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients together, then pour into a cake pan (a Bundt pan works well). Bake at 350F, or until a cake tester comes out clean). Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
A heavenly song of praise is brightly sung on the earth; the hosts of the Angels keep an earthly festival now in splendor and radiant joy; from on high, they praise with hymns your sufferings and struggles; and below, the Church lauds the heavenly glory you founded by your contests and pains, O glorious Fanourios.
Patricia Fann Bouteneff, president of Axia Women, loses things a lot.