An Easter carob cake

During the years of World War II a serious food crisis occurred in occupied Greece. The division of the country into three zones between which goods and people were not allowed to move, the depredation of rural production and livestock by Nazi Army, the failure of the occupation government to control the prices and the growth of the black market, led Greeks to hunger. Cities suffered more. People in mountain and island villages lived a little better. They could gather wild greens, herbs, fruits, they even could cultivate a small garden. Those who lived by the sea could catch a fish. When the weather was bad, life in the cities was getting worse. Don’t forget the winter of 1941, when more than 49000 people died in Athens and Peiraeus alone. Most of them died of starvation although a serious number was killed by cholera, dysentery, typhus and typhoid, diseases that usually complete the work of famine.

Well, under such conditions could people prepare festive foods? The truth is that even then, they tried to cook something nice that could give them hope for better days. On Holy Saturday’s morning, of 1942, a woman of Galatas, a town near Chania of Crete, baked a carob pie for her four children. Chestnuts and carobs were credited with saving Greek rural population from death by hunger during periods of food crisis and famine.

The woman we are talking about had two hens hidden in the leaves of a field. She had already saved some eggs for the pie and she was planning to kill one hen for the Easter lunch. When she went to the field she found no hens, someone had stolen them. Instead of poultry, the family had wild greens and hilopites, a home made pasta. The kids also ate the carob cake. Anna Kandilieraki, that’s the name of the woman, used to make an improved version of this cake every Easter, until her death on 1992.

Anna’s Kandilieraki Carob cake 

½ cup virgin olive oil

 1/3 cup honey

 1/3 cup raisins

 2 eggs

 ½ tp vanilla powder

 ½ tp cinnamon powder

 3/4 cup water

 1 cup all-purpose flour

 1/3 cup carob flower

 1 teaspoon baking soda

 a pinch of salt

 1 cup chopped blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan. Sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the olive oil and honey until fluffy. Beat the eggs and add them to olive oil mixture. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the 3/4 cup water. Stir in the almonds and raisins and mix well. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool and serve.


6 thoughts on “An Easter carob cake

  1. Hello,

    that description made me sad for a while. my dad said similar incident….when he was kid, there was famine and his sister fixed a nice recipe out of tapioca. And people in that village still follow her recipe.

    Your site looks great!

  2. One of our friends spent the war in Athens and he has horrifying stories about the conditions at that time. Anna’s story is most interesting. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Dear Laurie,
    During World War II, more Greeks died of famine, diseases (2.000.000 Greeks contracted malaria) etc., than in other occupied European country. Although the famine of the winter of 1941-2 is widely known, there were also several food crisis which envolved, depending on conditions and locations, into famine. In fact the 1940-4 Greek famine was the last European one in terms of mortality.

  4. i live in a village neighbouring galatas – my uncles still live there. i have also heard horrifying stories about the famine in athens during WWII.

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