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 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.
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.
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. This special dessert and many more are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – signed copies and special delivery rates to the US available at this link.
- 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
- Place the dehydrated ekmek kadayifi, the dried special bread in a large tray.
- Pour the how water evenly over the dry bread, making sure it’s all wet. Let the bread absorb the water for 15 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Turn the heat to low and simmer the syrup over 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then turn the heat off.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.