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Cakes and Desserts

Baklava, Revani, Kunefe and More; Desserts for the End of Ramadan

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day Ramazan Bayrami or Seker Bayrami in Turkey (also named Eid al-Fitr in the Islamic World, Festival of Fast-Breaking). There is a wonderful excitement in my parent’s home in Istanbul, as the holy month of Ramadan is now reaching to its end soon. My mother has been fasting and we all look forward to being together this year to celebrate the end of Ramadan in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque Istanbul; a special place to visit during and end of Ramadan

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul; a special place to visit during and end of Ramadan

Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement, charity, as well as increased devotion and worship. I love seeing family and friends visiting each other, elderly eagerly waiting for the young ones to pay a visit; little ones equally eagerly waiting for their sweet treats. Ramadan is also a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, share what you have and visit one another. A wonderful time when feelings of tolerance and charity are foremost in people’s minds.

Baklava, is one of the ultimate treats of end of Ramadan gatherings

Baklava, is one of the ultimate treats of end of Ramadan gatherings

Serving and sharing desserts when visiting friends and family is a special highlight for the end of Ramadan, Ramazan Bayrami activities. My mother plans what she will be preparing for the family and guests ahead of time. Below are some of the special desserts being prepared for Ramazan Bayrami in our family. I hope they may inspire to recreate for your family and friends for any special occasion.

Ramazan Bayraminiz kutlu olsun, Eid Mubarak if you’re celebrating and best wishes for the summer,

Ozlem

Baklava with Walnuts and Pistachios

Home made baklava; delicious, easy and lighter

Home made baklava; delicious, easy and lighter

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is regarded as one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner. Baklava is also one of the favorite desserts marking the end of Ramadan. The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful. Here is my home made baklava recipe; my version is lighter and fragrant with lemon, hope you enjoy it.

Gullac

Delicious and light Gullac dessert is ideal for warm summer days.

Delicious and light Gullac dessert is ideal for warm summer days.

One of our favorite dessert for this time of the year is the traditional dessert, Gullac. This lovely, light dessert is prepared with Gullac wafers which is made with corn starch and wheat flour. You can find Gullac wafers at specialty or Middle Eastern stores, or at Turkish online shops like Tulumba.com outside Turkey.

Güllaç dessert contains walnuts or almonds between the layers which are soaked in milk. It is a light and wonderful dessert for warm summer days. You can decorate Gullac with pomegranate seeds in winter or dried fruits like apricots in summer; crushed pistachios are also wonderful over gullac. Here is my Gullac recipe.

Kunefe; Kadayifi; a very festive dessert

Kunefe, Kadayifi - a glorious dessert that would make any day special.

Kunefe, Kadayifi – a glorious dessert that would make any day special.

This glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, Kadayifi, is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya and it appears on our table in almost every special occasion.

The Master at work in Long Market, Antakya. The dough is pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, called Tel Kadayif.

The Master at work in Long Market, Antakya. The dough is pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, called Tel Kadayif.

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli and when soaked in butter and baked, resembles golden shredded wheat. It is the basis for many desserts but this is the most impressive. The hot cheese should ooze out giving an interesting contrast to the syrup soaked, crunchy casing. Any unsalted cheese which melts easily can be used – fresh mozzarella works well. I also like to add a little clotted cream; my mother would add the wonderfully thick cream we get in Turkey, called Kaymak. Kunefe can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions and it instantly makes any day special. Here is my Kunefe recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Revani; Semolina Sponge Cake with Syrup

Revani; a deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup

Revani; a deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup

Revani has been a popular dessert with us Turks since the Ottoman Period; it is believed that the name Revani is given when the Ottomans conquered the city of Yerevan in today’s Armenia. Revani has many versions and been enjoyed in various cuisines especially in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, as well as in Turkey. I have seen the addition of rose water, orange flower water and orange zest to Revani, all sounds delicious. We love semolina’s grainy, nutty texture, the goodness from yoghurt and the refreshing lemony flavor in Revani. Here’s my Revani recipe; it is lighter but still packed with a lot of flavor.

Kaymakli Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish Bread Pudding in Syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding soaked in syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding soaked in syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi, a specialty from Antakya, is a delicious and very popular dessert in Turkey, made with the special (dehydrated) bread soaked in syrup. Topped with the thick Turkish clotted cream, kaymak, it is a heavenly and a very satisfying dessert. Unfortunately it is difficult get this dehydrated bread abroad. Middle Eastern shops, Turkish shops and online Turkish stores may carry them, worth checking. I have also seen crumpets being used as an alternative to this dehydrated bread abroad. If using crumpets, you’ll need to adjust the syrup quantity. Here is my Ekmek Kadayifi recipe.

 Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Antakya’s Kombe Cookie with Walnuts; three generations baking

Antakya's kombe cookie with walnuts and cinnamon

Antakya’s kombe cookie with walnuts and cinnamon

Another special treasure my parents kindly brought back from Antakya was these very pretty wooden molds which the locals use to shape the delicious Kombe cookies. I adore the molds’ intricate, delicate designs and have always been always fascinated with the special place these cookies have throughout the Middle Eastern cuisines.

Wooden kombe cookie molds have intricate, delicate designs, just beautiful.

Wooden kombe cookie molds have intricate, delicate designs, just beautiful.

Kombe cookies are made in every special occasion in Antakya and surroundings; weddings, religious festivals, Ramadan or at any special gathering. They have a delicious, crunchy bite to it and I like that they are not overly sweet. There are variations of kombe cookies even in Southeast Turkey; some has only nuts in it, some would have dates, as in the case of their Middle Eastern cousin, Mamul or Ma’amoul. Regardless of their variation, both kombe and ma’amoul have a special place throughout the Middle Eastern cuisines and have been a part of the celebrations in different religions; during Ramadan, Easter and Hanukkah. Indeed a special cross cultural cookie and I think that makes it even more special.

Anneanne, grandma and my daughter, shaping the kombe cookies together

Anneanne, grandma and my daughter, shaping the kombe cookies together

My 7 year old daughter is a keen baker and she was fascinated with the beautiful kombe molds that anneanne, grandma brought. So we all gathered in the kitchen a few weeks ago; anneanne, myself and my daughter, shaping the kombe cookies. She was fascinated with the shapes forming in the wooden mold and hearing anneanne’s stories. Then mother wanted to consult my dear cousin, Rana in Reyhanli – Hatay, the “pro” Kombe maker in the family, to fine tune the recipe. Rana very kindly went over the kombe recipe as the way it is made in our family; our very special thanks goes to Rana for her invaluable contribution. It was a very memorable experience, which I hope will stay with my daughter a lifetime – a very special recipe and tradition to pass on the next generation.

Baked kombe cookies; love its crunchy texture and delicate taste, flavored with cinnamon.

Baked kombe cookies; love its crunchy texture and delicate taste, flavored with cinnamon.

We used crushed walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in the kombe filling; cinnamon pairs beautifully with walnuts. In Antakya, a special blend of kombe baharat is also sold, consisting of mainly ground cinnamon – there’s also ground all spice, mastic, mahlepi, ground ginger and ground clove (some locals may add a few other spices) in the fragrant kombe baharat (If you’d like to make your own kombe baharat, the ratio of cinnamon to the others in the blend is roughy 3:1). I love that these delicate, crunchy cookies are not overly sweet and they are wonderful with tea, cay or Turkish coffee.

Antakya's kombe cookies with walnuts and cinnamon

Antakya’s kombe cookies with walnuts and cinnamon

I hope you enjoy these delicious Kombe cookies. The wooden molds are a treat; make sure you get some if you plan to go to Antakya, Uzun Carsi (Long Market). If not, you can still decorate your cookies with a fork.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 3 reviews
Antakya’s Kombe Cookie with Walnuts; 3 generations baking together
 
I hope you enjoy Antakya's delicious kombe cookies, shaped in the beautiful, intricate wooden kombe molds. Kombe cookies are made during every special event in southern Turkey, Antakya and surroundings; weddings, religious festivals, Ramadan or at any special gathering. They have a delicious, crunchy bite to them and I like that they are not overly sweet. As well as walnuts and cinnamon, dates can also be used in the filling, as in the case of their Middle Eastern cousin, Ma'amoul.
Author:
Recipe type: Traditional Turkish cookies
Cuisine: Regional Turkish Cuisine - Antakya Cuisine
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 500gr/4 cups plain, all-purpose flour
  • 200 gr/ 7 oz. unsalted butter, melted
  • 110gr/ 3.5 oz./ ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 egg white, beaten
  • 10 ml/ 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp. ground cinnamon or Kombe baharat
  • 4 fl. oz./ ½ cup warm whole milk
  • For the filling:
  • 85gr/3 oz./2/3 cup crushed walnuts
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 10ml/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. Combine the flour and the melted butter in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Pour in the vanilla extract, egg whites and the cinnamon or kombe baharat, combine well.
  5. Knead the mixture well for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
  6. Take a small walnut size of the dough and press the dough gently into the mold to take its shape.
  7. Stuff this dough with about 1 ½ tsp. of the filling mixture.
  8. Take another small piece of dough, about half of the size of the first one. Flatten and press this dough gently over the filling,to form a cap and close the dough. Press gently and seal the ends of the dough.
  9. Remove the kombe cookie from the wooden mold by tapping the end of the mold with your fingers firmly and make sure to catch the falling cookie, shaped with the mold’s intricate design. Place the cookie on a baking tray and repeat this with the rest of the dough.
  10. Bake the cookies for about 20 or 25 minutes, until they get a nice light brown color. They are traditionally lighter in color.
  11. Once cool, serve the Kombe cookies with tea, cay or coffee. Kombe cookies can be stored in an airtight container for at least 3-4 days.

 

Ozlem’s Turkish Table featured amongst the best Turk Food Blogs by Daily Sabah 

I have been delighted and honored to see my blog Ozlem’s Turkish Table being featured amongst the best Turkish food blogs by the Daily Sabah national newspaper in Turkey. Please check out the link for the article and also meet other wonderful Turkish food bloggers. With this opportunity, my heartfelt thanks goes to you all for all your support; it means so much to me.

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Kaymakli Ekmek Kadayifi – Turkish Bread Pudding in Syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding soaked in syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding soaked in syrup

Bread, ekmek, is a main staple in Turkish cuisine and the loaf of bread takes the center piece in Turkish homes, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also have a delicious and very popular dessert, made with the special (dehydrated) bread soaked in syrup, the delicious Ekmek Kadayifi.

One of the treasures that my parents kindly brought over from Turkey when visiting us was this special dehydrated bread used for making Ekmek Kadayifi.  Topped with the thick Turkish clotted cream, kaymak, it is a heavenly and a very satisfying dessert. Ekmek kadayifi is also served during religious festivals like the end of Ramadan celebrations, Seker Bayrami, in Turkey.

Ekmek kadayifi, the dry, dehydrated bread is first soaked in hot water.

Ekmek kadayifi, the dry, dehydrated bread is first soaked in hot water.

Ekmek kadayifi is very popular in Antakya, where my roots are from and you can easily get this special dehydrated bread from bakeries and pastry shops to make the dessert in Uzun Carsi, Antakya. It is also available in Eminonu, Kadikoy – Istanbul and in most parts of Turkey. Ekmek Kadayifi is a popular dessert that you can enjoy in restaurants and pastanes (patisseries) all around Turkey. Unfortunately it is difficult get this dehydrated bread abroad. Middle Eastern shops, Turkish shops and online Turkish stores like Tulumba.com and Best Turkish Food.com may carry them, worth checking. I have also seen crumpets being used as an alternative to this dehydrated bread abroad. If using crumpets, you’ll need to adjust the syrup quantity.

Pour the syrup over ekmek kadayifi evenly and let it soak the syrup.

Ekmek kadayifi is a very easy and a bountiful dessert. First you will need to soak the dry bread in hot water and it will dramatically expand, almost doubling the size, so bear this in mind. The next stage is the addition of the syrup and letting the bread soak the syrup. I have used half of dry ekmek kadayifi (15 cm/6” in diameter) and it served 8 people generously. Kaymak, Turkish thick clotted cream is the traditional accompaniment, if you can’t get kaymak, clotted cream (as found in the UK) or a dollop of mascarpone cheese also work well.

Delicious Ekmak Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding in syrup; delicious with kaymak or clotted cream.

Delicious Ekmak Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding in syrup; delicious with kaymak or clotted cream.

I don’t enjoy very sweet desserts and my syrup here is less sweet and fragrant with the lemon juice. We served ekmek kadayifi with crushed walnuts and glad to see everyone really enjoyed it – hope you enjoy yours too.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 3 reviews
Kaymakli Ekmek Kadayifi – Turkish Bread Pudding in Syrup
 
Ekmek Kadayifi is a traditional and very popular Turkish dessert made with the special (dehydrated) bread soaked in syrup. It is served with kaymak, the thick Turkish clotted cream and ground walnuts or pistachio nuts over it. Clotted cream or mascarpone cheese may be a good substitution, if you can't get kaymak.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish Desserts
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Half of ready, dried ekmek kadayifi (15 cm/ 6” in diameter) – Turkish dehydrated bread for kadayif
  • 1 lt /2 pints / 4 cups hot water
  • For the syrup:
  • 400 gr/ 14 oz./ 2 cups sugar
  • 625 ml/1 pint 4 fl oz./ 2 ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ lemon
  • Crushed walnuts to serve
  • Kaymak, Turkish clotted cream or clotted cream or mascarpone cheese to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the dehydrated ekmek kadayifi, the dried special bread in a large tray.
  2. Pour the how water evenly over the dry bread, making sure it’s all wet. Let the bread absorb the water for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, the bread will be almost doubled its size. Get a clean kitchen towel and gently press and pat on the soaked bread to get rid of all the excess water in the soaked bread and in the tray. At the end of this stage, there should be no excess water remained. Take care not to press too hard, so that the bread won’t break.
  4. In a saucepan, stir in the sugar and hot water. Dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Then squeeze the ¼ lemon juice and the leave the lemon in the sauce pan.
  5. Turn the heat to low and simmer the syrup over 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then turn the heat off.
  6. Pour the syrup over the ekmek kadayifi evenly and cook for 25 -30 minutes on medium heat. Turn the pan occasionally so that all parts get to cook evenly. Spoon the syrup in the tray over ekmek kadayifi ; all syrup will be soaked at the end.
  7. Remove from the heat and let the ekmek kadayifi rest for 15 minutes. Slice and turn the ekmek kadayifi upside down to a serving dish. You can serve at room temperature or after chilled in the refrigerator.
  8. You can serve the ekmek kadayifi with Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak and crushed walnuts over the slice. The British clotted cream or mascarpone cheese would also complement ekmek kadayifi well, if you can’t get kaymak.
Notes
You will need a large circle or square tray to make this bread pudding, bear in mind that the bread will almost double its size once soaked in water.
 

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