Syrup-Soaked Cakes Worth Seeking Out at Titan Foods in Astoria
If you're visiting Astoria to stock up on Greek food supplies, you shouldn't miss Titan Foods, where you'll find a great selection of feta and olives and flowing rivers of olive oil.
But I've noticed that even some loyal shoppers tend to ignore the store's bakery counter, which is a shame, as Titan makes some of the best Greek sweets in the neighborhood. By and large they're heavily soaked in syrup, which isn't always a great thing for flaky phyllo pastries, but does wonders for cakes.
My favorite of the lot is a sweet orange yogurt cake with a thin, delicate crust and an interior more like a sliceable custard than a typical cake. They call it Orangepita ($3), and despite similarities to orange-flavored samali, the cake is made with shards of phyllo, not semolina, the bakers tells me. It's sweet but full of orange brightness, and a heavy dose of orange zest adds a subtle bitterness to the custard. Is it pudding? Cake? Pie? It's sort of all three.
Also worth a look: Karidopita ($3), a tall, moist cake fortified with ground walnuts. The crumb is nubby like semolina but more wholesome-tasting, and the light brown syrup adds notes of molasses to the nuts. It's best taken with a cup of strong coffee or tea.
Despite the heavy doses of syrup, neither of these cakes is overly sweet. And if you can contain the mess, they keep well over several days. So on your next Astoria shopping trip, pick up some cake for the road. It'll do well with those olives and octopus.