Watermelon means summer almost anywhere you go. I love it, crisp cold watermelon is the ideal way to end a summer meal. But what do you do when you have bought a humongous watermelon and you know that you can’t eat it all in time? You make a watermelon cake! That’s what Greek islanders from the island of Milos do.
I have to admit I have never tasted this before so I was curious to try it out. And I’m glad I did. The recipe in itself is pretty simple. All the ingredients are vegan, no animal products. This is typical of many desserts in Greek cuisine, which are vegan as Greeks fasted from almost all animal products for almost 200 days a year, so they came up with plenty of recipes that were vegan, but also used seasonal produce.
Most people think of watermelon as sugar and water, in fact it is a fruit rich in vitamin A, C and lycopene. Lycopene is a pigment that gives the watermelon its vibrant color, but is is also an antioxidant that may protect from some forms of cancer. It is better absorbed when there is some form of fat with it, as in this cake that also contains a bit of olive oil (which is also rich in protective antioxidants). Sesame seeds are also a great addition nutrition-wise. They are a good source of protein, vitamin E, iron, calcium and copper. They also contain lignans a group of substances that have antioxidant activity that may lower cholesterol levels, but also protect from cancer. So there you have it: a sweet, but healthy dessert.
I tasted this plain and it was good, but with yogurt it was even better. The consistency is a bit gelatinous, and I felt that the sweetness paired wonderfully with the tanginess of yogurt.
This dessert is fairly low fat, I only used 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Also traditionally white sugar is used, but I felt that brown sugar would go well with the cinnamon.
Greek Island Watermelon Cake
- ¼ - ½ cup sesame seeds
- 2 pounds watermelon cut in cubes about the size of walnuts
- ½ cup honey + 2 tablespoons for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¾ cup flour
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven at 350 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
- Remove the seeds from the watermelon. Cut in cubes about the size of a walnut. Place in colander and let it strain for about an hour. Squeeze a bit more with your hands to remove additional liquid.
- Place watermelon in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ½ cup honey and olive oil and mix well with a large spoon, carefully as to not break the watermelon pieces. The batter will be somewhat liquid.
- In a cake pan (I used a quiche pan-you do not want it to be too deep) grease with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle the base with sesame seeds, enough to make a crust. Pour over the watermelon mixture and spread evenly. Sprinkle some more sesame seeds and bake in the oven for about an hour.
- Remove, drizzle the rest of the honey and let it cool. Serve it with creamy Greek yogurt.
Photos by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved