Extract from Island of Secrets

‘Would you like a drink, Yiayá?’ Angie said to her grandmother. ‘I’ve brought a box of loukoumades from the cake shop, they’re still warm.’ She opened a box of small golden donuts sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and slathered with local honey.

‘Make us a coffee to go with the cakes.’ Maria said. ‘The beans are in the fridge.’

Angie blinked. Coffee beans? ‘Yiayá, I don’t know how to fix coffee from scratch. My mother drinks instant and I have a machine.’

‘Then go into the garden, stand under the olive tree, and call “Voula,” as loud as you can, towards the lower village.’

Angie grinned and did as Maria instructed. Outside, she called, ‘Voula!’ while feeling stupid and hoping no one would hear.

‘Pathetic. Shout!’ Maria’s voice came from behind the strip curtain.

Angie hauled in a great breath and bellowed. ‘Vooo-laaa!’ over the rooftops. She blushed, unable to remember ever hearing how loud she could actually yell. On the village’s lower level, she recognised the broad figure of Voula climbing outside steps that led to a flat roof.

Voula cupped her hands around her mouth and replied, ‘What?’

Angie hauled in another breath. ‘Can you make Greek coffee?’ Then she realised the stupidity of the question. The words flew from deep inside her chest, great cannonballs of voice that left her with a peculiar sense of relief. No wonder these Cretans are always so happy, she thought, they shout all the time.


Honey Donuts

Loukoumades  (Loo-koo-mad-es)

500g flour

50g packet dried yeast

300 ml warm water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey

Oil for deep frying



2 cups sugar

One cup honey

2 cups water

Ground cinnamon


For serving

Sesame seeds lightly toasted


Mix the flour and salt in a deep bowl and stand in a warm place.  


Sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and leave until frothy. Mix the flour and salt, make a well and pour in the yeast and water, mix and then beat until you have a very soft dough adding more water if necessary.


Beat in the tablespoon of honey. Leave in a warm place until more than double in size.


Heat the oil. Using two wet spoons, scoop up half a spoon of dough with a wet spoon, and ease it off, into the hot oil with the other wet spoon. Fry the donuts in small batches. Drain each batch on kitchen paper.

Boil all the syrup ingredients for at least 7 minutes, pour hot syrup over the donuts and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve warm with extra honey.