Walking into a bakery in Greece is like stepping into a child’s dream world. Counters and counters of gooey baklava in all shapes and sizes, shelves of exotic and unusual looking biscuits, pastries with custard, pastries with syrup, feta pies and spinach ones with flakey pastry. The best thing to do, of course, is to attempt to buy and eat as much as possible but if you’re in need of a little guidance, I’ve put together a summary of the types of food you might want to grab from a bakery.
Tiropita or Spanakopita
Cheese pie or spinach and feta cheese pie are probably one of the most popular bakery items. These tend to be quite big, stodgy and for only a couple of euros make a great breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.
These traditional bread rings are another bakery staple and in are even sold by street vendors in Athens. Usually costing less than a euro, these make a great snack or lunch with some cheese. A lot of bakeries slice these open and put cheese or meat in themselves, making a good Greek style sandwich. These bread rings are also commonly made with olives in them too.
Probably one of the best known pastries, Baklava in Greece puts the stuff you buy at home to shame. Bakeries tend to sell trays of the stuff, in all its varieties, from small triangle to shredded pieces. The best Baklava should be made with honey and pistachios, not peanuts.
A bit of a guilty pleasure, this pudding consists of a sweet, dense vanilla custards encased in flaky pastry. It usually comes in massive slabs and that shouldn’t be possible to finish but I always manage to.
Another diet friendly pudding. Shamali is a dense polenta cake that is cooked as quite a dry sponge and then drenched in orange syrup.
This is essentially Greek style rice pudding and is usually found in the chilled counter in most bakeries. It’s much thicker than the stuff we have in the UK and is flavoured with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s popular in Greece as a breakfast food.
In Greece, cookies make a regular appearance at special occasions such as weddings and parties and can easily be picked up from the bakery. They can vary drastically in shape and flavour depending on where about in Greece you are but usually there will be some covered in a sickly sweet layer of icing sugar, lots containing nuts and plenty of spiced ones. A popular one is called Melomakarona, Greek honey and spice cookie. I’m going to try and make these at home so i’ll put up a post about that.
These sticky, sickly sweet balls are made by frying a sweet dough and drenching them in with a honey syrup, often flavoured with rose-water or spices. These can be found in bakeries or sold by street vendors all across Greece.