Olive oil orange juice cookies on a plate next to a glass of wildflowers

This is a revision of a traditional Greek olive oil and orange juice cookie with less sugar, more whole wheat flour, more orange zest, and more spices than the original. Very tasty, it is appropriate for certain types of fasting as well as for vegans, those seeking to lower their cholesterol, and health-conscious eaters who enjoy a slightly sweet treat. 

Greek Orange Juice Cookies, or Koulourakia me Portokali

Makes 70 to 100 cookies, depending on size

Ingredients

  • 2 cups olive oil, preferably extra virgin
  • 1 cup sugar (or 1 ½ cups for sweeter cookies)
  • 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (or bottled, but fresh is better!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon (or less if you prefer a less spicy cookie)
  • 1 teaspoon cloves (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (more or less, as needed)
  • 5 cups unbleached flour (more or less, as needed)
  • 1 cup raisins (optional, but nice for natural added sweetness; use smaller raisins rather than larger ones to make the dough easier to work with)

Directions

In a very large bowl, beat the olive oil with the sugar until well blended. Then add the orange juice. In a small bowl, mix the soda with the lemon juice so it froths up. Add to the oil mixture and stir. Add the lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Mix well.

Gradually add the flour to the wet mixture, mixing it in with your clean hands each time you add more. Add extra flour if necessary, so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. Mix in the raisins in the end.

Let the dough sit for up to half an hour, and preheat the oven to 360-365 degrees F or 185 degrees C.

Use your hands to roll a small amount of dough on a flat surface until you have a cylinder about ½ inch thick and approximately 4 inches long. You can leave the dough in that cylindrical form and bake it that way, or shape the cylinders into small circles by pinching the ends together. (Try to keep all the cookies you put on one tray about the same size and thickness, so they get done at the same time.)

Place cookies on a cookie sheet covered with baking paper, leaving about a half inch to an inch of space between the cookies. (They do not expand much during baking.) Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown. (Check earlier, since baking times will vary.)

Comments

Hi Rita, thanks a lot for trying the recipe, and for sharing your comment. I was very surprised by it, since this is the most popular recipe on my website, with over 3200 hits, and yours is the first report of a problem. However, I certainly notice at my house that the cookies don't taste the same each time; the last batch was the sweetest ever, although I don't understand why. The oranges, however, are naturally sweeter at some times than others; perhaps the flour is slightly different, too. With all the "optional" choices and possible variations (more or less sugar, flour, and spices, for example), I wonder whether it was really the baking soda that caused the bitterness. There is a lot of flour in the recipe, so a fair amount of baking soda will be required. Did you add 1 or 1 1/2 cups of sugar? Perhaps 1 1/2 cups would fit your taste better. Another note: for people who are accustomed to really sweet cookies, these may not seem sweet enough. For those who prefer less sweet cookies, they may be perfect (more so, however, in one batch than another). We always have a jar of these on hand; for me, eating very little sugar, they are a big treat I occasionally allow myself.

I just made these and while the texture and color were great, I had to toss them out. The recipe calls for too much baking soda. The koulourakia tasted just like baking soda, very bitter. I would advise adding just a fraction of what recipe calls for.

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