It's that delicious time of year again, when lovers of baklava and spanikopita ready their tastebuds for the annual Greek Bake Sale.
Sponsored by members of the Ladies of Philoptochos, the philanthropic arm of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, the bake sale has changed a little through the years. When it began in 1960, women of the church worked tirelessly in a tiny kitchen to make pastries. There was only one oven, and it took months for the pastries to be made. Pastries were set up in a booth at Eastgate Mall, which at that time was the only mall in town.
"They were meticulous to detail with everything that they made," says bake sale chairman Thea Ballas.
And that is one thing that has not changed. All of the baked goods are beautifully presented and wrapped perfectly to keep their flavors fresh and delicious through the holiday season. I know my tiered dessert tray on Christmas Day is never complete without baklava on one of its levels.
And here are some interesting figures: To make these mouthwatering confections, it takes more than 75 cases of phyllo dough, at least 500 pounds of sugar, 150 pounds of nuts and who knows how much butter and eggs, Ballas adds.
Plan on arriving early as the more-popular items - baklava, koulourakia, finikia, amygdalota and spanakopita - are sold out by early afternoon.
Here's the rundown of what will be offered this year:
» Kok: Small chocolate sponge cakes filled with a chocolate pastry cream and topped with a chocolate ganache. "The majority of our pastries have nuts, and we have had many requests for a pastry without nuts and chocolate. These are very popular all over Greece, especially to serve during the holidays, and I have a feeling these will be gobbled up quickly this year," Ballas says.
» Koulourakia: There will be two types this year, one that's soft with sesame seeds and one that is a hard butter cookie.
» Paximathia: There are also two types of this biscotti-type cookie that will be offered, one with anisette and no nuts and one with almonds.
» Baklava: Layers of phyllo with nuts, spices and syrup.
» Kataifee: Shredded phyllo with a nut mixture and drizzled with syrup. Excellent with a cup of coffee.
» Finikia: Spice cookies, with syrup, and rolled in nuts.
» Kourambiethes: Butter cookies with toasted almonds and rolled in powdered sugar.
» Amygdalota: Cookies with ground almonds, sugar and flavorings.
» Almond coffee cake: Almonds, butter, eggs and sugar.
» Galatoboureko: 8- by 8-inch pans of dough filled with a custard mixture and topped with a lemon syrup.
» Tiropites: Phyllo pastry filled with feta cheese and egg mixture.
» Spanakopita: Phyllo with spinach, feta cheese and egg mixture.
If you can't wait to get home and indulge, the bake sale will be selling warm loukoumades (Greek-style doughnuts with syrup), spanakopita pockets and tiropita pockets to eat on-site.
Doors open Friday at 8 a.m. The sale ends at 4 p.m., or whenever the last baked goods are sold. The church is across from Memorial Hospital at 722 Glenwood Avenue. For more information, call 423-629-4881.
Proceeds from the sale go toward the local and national charities supported by the Ladies of Philoptochos, including the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, Chattanooga Room at the Inn and Chambliss House.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.