Chattanooga church’s bake sale sets table with Greek treats for Easter, Mother’s Day

Staff file photo / Baklava sits on a table at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church for a previous Greek bake sale.

The Spring Bake Sale at Annunciation Greek Church is a tradition in the Chattanooga area, one that brings hundreds of people to the church to buy sweet pastries and savory items to take home. Some customers choose to stay a while, visit with friends and church members and enjoy a taste of Greek fare and a cup of coffee.

For three years, the church has added a winter bake sale, an event that has become extremely popular for people looking to augment their holiday food menus. The spring sale does the same, offering baklava, pastichio (Greek lasagna) and more items to take home and freeze or store in the pantry for Easter and Mother's Day.

This year's Spring Bake Sale happens 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, March 31, or until the shelves are empty, which does happen, so it's best to place orders online in advance.

This season, two new items will be added to the lineup. One is karidopita, a spice cake made with walnuts and lightly soaked in a honey syrup. Oh yum! The other is a new take on baklava -- Napoleon baklava, layers of puff pastry with cream and pieces of baklava drizzled in chocolate. Mouth watering yet?

The sale is presented by the Ladies of Philopticus, an organization dedicated to supporting nonprofits in the Chattanooga area. It takes months of planning and hours of baking to have enough inventory to fulfill orders. And can you even imagine how much butter, flour and sugar it takes?

"A very large quantity," says bake sale chairwoman Thea Ballas. "For the most part, these items are easy to purchase. However, we also need large quantities of eggs and phyllo dough, and both have been a challenge to purchase for this upcoming sale. Shortages for both have been a problem for months."

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The church hall will be open to purchase baked goods, but hot food will also be served, so sit a spell and enjoy:

› Spanakopita and tiropita pockets.

› Galaktoboureko (a custardy dessert in crispy phyllo).

› Hot pieces of pastichio.

› Greek salads.

› Loukoumades (Greek doughnuts).

For a complete list of foods available for pickup, or to place orders in advance -- highly recommended -- log onto the church website, -- click on the Bake Sale 2023 banner and follow the links.

"Customers really look forward to purchasing pastries in the spring for Easter, graduations, weddings and showers," Ballas notes.

Copies of "Greek Cooking in an American Kitchen," one of Ballas' favorite cookbooks, will be for sale.

Published by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Seattle, Washington, it's a comprehensive cookbook of Greek recipes simplified for people to make in their home kitchens.

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"Most recipes coming from our grandmothers and mothers from Greece were difficult to follow since so many of the recipes called for a scant of this or a dash of that," Ballas says. "The women of the (Seattle) parish took their family recipes and spent over 10 years perfecting the recipes in this cookbook. Each recipe was made three times and then submitted to a committee to critique the dish. If it did not pass this committee, they went back into the kitchen to iron out the problems."

The book was published in 1982 and it is in its eighth printing. Here's one of Ballas' favorite recipes. Pick one up at the bake sale for more enticing recipes.

Greek Meatballs (Kefthedes)

2 slices white bread, crusts removed

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 pound ground beef

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, optional

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

Dash black pepper


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

In a small bowl, moisten bread with wine; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine beef, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, egg, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the bread/wine to the meat mixture. Mix thoroughly.

Shape into 2-inch balls; dust with flour. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet; brown meatballs on all sides. Keep warm in a covered casserole until ready to serve.

Variation: Prepare meatball mixture as above, and arrange raw meatballs in a baking dish. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes or until browned. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and turn meatballs. Combine 1 cup (8 ounces) tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water; pour over meatballs. Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Contact Anne Braly at or