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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), starting 24 May 2020.

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.  Ramadan is also a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, share what you have and visit one another.  With the Covid 19, unfortunately visiting one another will be a virtual one for most of us; still the food we prepare and share with friends, neighbours even by the door and give back to charities will be special.

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

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

 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 too.

Desserts play an important role in Turkish culture and are the center piece at religious festivals, weddings and family celebrations. My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland is packed with delicious dessert recipes from Baklava to Kadayifi, fruit based desserts  to Turkish Delight – Lokum and more. Signed copies now 30 % OFF at this link, and delivered worldwide including US.

Ramazan Bayraminiz kutlu olsun, Eid Mubarak to all celebrating and best wishes,

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.  How to make Baklava is also now on Ozlem’s Turkish Table You Tube channel below.

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.

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.

Here is also my Revani YouTube video – Afiyet Olsun.

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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Katmer; Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachio and clotted cream

Katmer; Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachios and clotted cream

Katmer; Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachios and clotted cream

This delicious and easy to make Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachios and clotted cream, Katmer, hails from Gaziantep, one of the must visit gastronomic regions in Turkey. The crunchy, flaky Katmer is traditionally the first meal eaten by the bride and groom after their wedding night in Gaziantep. It tastes absolutely heavenly with Gaziantep’s world famous pistachios and the thick Turkish clotted cream, kaymak.

and place little dabs of the clotted cream, mascarpone cheese or Turkish kaymak, all around the filo sheet.

Place little dabs of the clotted cream, mascarpone cheese or Turkish kaymak, all around the filo sheet.

My version of Katmer here uses filo pastry sheets (you can use the fresh, paper thin Turkish yufka pastry sheets in Turkey) and thick clotted cream instead of kaymak, as it is not easy to find kaymak abroad (mascarpone cheese also gave good results). The substitution worked well in Katmer and made a lovely, light dessert with with fresh fruit by the side. You can serve Katmer as part of breakfast, dessert or as a tea time treat.

Katmer, Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachios and clotted cream, a specialty of Gaziantep.

Katmer, Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachios and clotted cream, a specialty of Gaziantep.

I hope you enjoy Katmer, Afiyet Olsun,
Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews
Katmer; Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachio and clotted cream
 
This delicious and easy to make Turkish crunchy pancakes with pistachios and clotted cream, Katmer, hails from Gaziantep, one of the must visit gastronomic regions in Turkey. It is delicious as part of breakfast, tea time treat or a light dessert with fresh fruit aside.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish regional desserts
Cuisine: Turkish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 sheets of filo pastry, thawed (each sheet about 30 cm x 27 cm – 11 in x 12 in)
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
  • 55 gr / 2 oz. clotted cream, Turkish kaymak or mascarpone cheese
  • 60 gr / 4 tbsp. finely crushed, unsalted pistachios
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp. sugar (brown sugar works well too)
  • Honey and fresh fruit to serve (optional)
Instructions
  1. Take the filo sheets out of the fridge 30 minutes prior using to bring to room temperature. If filo sheets are frozen, it is best to thaw in the fridge overnight and take out 1 hour prior using to bring to room temperature. Alternatively, you can take out the frozen filo sheets 2 hours prior using to bring to room temperature.
  2. Place two filo sheets on top of another on a dry surface (keep the rest of the filo sheets under damp towel so that they won’t dry out).
  3. Leave a margin of about 4 cm (1.5 in) around the edges and place little dabs of the clotted cream, mascarpone cheese or Turkish kaymak, all around the filo sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the finely crushed pistachios and sugar evenly over the cream.
  5. Place the remaining 2 filo sheets on top. Brush the edges of the top filo sheet with 1 tbsp. of melted butter. Wet your hands and fold over each side of the pasty (about 2 cm / 1 in) to make a parcel. Seal the edges with your wet hands and the brushed melted butter.
  6. Coat the remaining 1 tbsp. melted butter around a large, non-stick frying pan, over medium heat.
  7. Place the filo parcel into the pan (with the wrapped edges down) and cook for 2 minutes, as it will get golden.
  8. Turn the pancake over gently (large spatulas help) and cook for another 1,5 minutes or until golden.
  9. Serve katmer warm, drizzled with a little honey (if you wish) and crushed pistachios over. Bowl of fresh fruit aside complements katmer beautifully too.
 

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Sekerpare; Tender and Moist Turkish Semolina Cookies in Syrup

Sekerpare; tender and moist Turkish semolina cookies in syrup

Sekerpare; tender and moist Turkish semolina cookies in syrup

Sekerpare is a much loved Turkish dessert, made in Turkish homes and a huge favorite of my dear brother-in-law, Mehmet. You can also find Sekerpare in bakeries and patisseries, pastane as we call it, all around in Turkey. Semolina based national favorite Sekerpare would always appear at my mother’s tea time spread, during celebrations with family and friends, as well as at religious festivities as when marking the end of Ramadan.

Sekerpare means “a piece of sweet” in Old Turkish and I love the crumbly, lighter texture semolina brings to Sekerpare, it simply melts in your mouth. My version is a little lighter and less sweet, fragrant with lemon juice and lemon zest.

Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking.

Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking.

A few tips for a successful Sekerpare: 1) Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking. 2) First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool. Once all the syrup absorbed, Sekerpare will be soft and tender enough to eat with a fork.

Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool.

Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool.

We enjoy Sekerpare with Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, cay for a tea time treat or as a dessert after meal. I hope you can have a go at this delicious and easy to make treat.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Adapted from Adventures in Turkish Cooking, Anatolia Cookery Book

5.0 from 5 reviews
Sekerpare; Tender and Moist Turkish Semolina Cookies in Syrup
 
Sekerpare is a much loved Turkish dessert, made in Turkish homes. Sekerpare means “a piece of sweet” in Old Turkish and I love the crumbly, lighter texture semolina brings to Sekerpare, it simply melts in your mouth. My version is a little lighter and less sweet, fragrant with lemon juice and lemon zest. We enjoy Sekerpare with Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, cay for a tea time treat or as a dessert after meal; hope you can give it a go and enjoy too.
Author:
Recipe type: Semolina based Turkish Desserts
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 20 pieces
Ingredients
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 115 gr/ 4 oz. / ½ cup sugar
  • 125 gr/ 4 ½ oz. unsalted butter
  • 300 gr/ 10 ½ oz. /2 cups plain (all – purpose flour)
  • 95 gr / 3 ¼ oz. / ½ cup fine grained semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. light olive oil (and a little extra to grease the baking tray)
  • 20 blanched almonds or hazelnuts
  • Small bowl of cold water (to help shape the sekerpare cookies)
  • For the syrup:
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 345 gr/ 12 oz. /1 ½ cup sugar
  • 480 ml/ 16 fl. oz. / 2 cups water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas mark 4
  2. First make the syrup. Grate the lemon zest into a bowl and set aside for the dough.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice into a cup.
  4. Combine the 345 gr/ 12 oz. /1 ½ cup sugar and 480 ml/ 16 fl. oz. / 2 cups water in a heavy sauce pan over the medium heat and bring to the boil. Stir and let the sugar dissolve.
  5. Add the lemon juice, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes for the syrup to thicken slightly. Turn the heat off and set the syrup aside to cool.
  6. Now, let’s make the dough. Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat (or cut in small chunks and melt in microwave for 30 – 40 seconds, mixing half way).
  7. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the semolina. Make a well in the middle and pour in the butter. Stir in the 2 eggs, 115 gr/ 4 oz./ ½ cup sugar, lemon zest, 2 tbsp. light olive oil and the baking powder.
  8. Knead for 5 minutes, until you achieve a soft, moist dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Have a small bowl of cold water nearby. Knead the dough again for 5 minutes. Then wet your hands lightly with cold water and divide the dough and shape into twenty ping pong sized balls.
  10. Grease a baking tray with a little of light olive oil (about 1 tbsp.) and place the sekerpare dough balls side by side, making sure you leave extra space between them to expand. Gently press down on top of each ball to flatten slightly.
  11. Push an almond or hazelnut in the center of each sekerpare ball.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until they start to turn light brown.
  13. Remove the sekerpare from the oven and pour cooled syrup over hot sekerpare cookies. Leave to cool and let the sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup for 15 minutes; they will get soft and tender.
  14. Serve cooled sekerpare with Turkish tea or coffee. You can keep sekerpare cookies covered in a container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Notes
A few tips for a successful Sekerpare: 1) Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking. 2) First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool. Once all the syrup absorbed, Sekerpare will be soft and tender enough to eat with a fork.

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