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Cakes and Desserts

Baklava with Pistachios and Walnuts – Fistikli ve Cevizli Baklava

Baklava; image from Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, by Sian Irvine Photography

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is 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. There is no bad time for a good piece of baklava! 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.

I am passionate about my homeland’s delicious, healthy Turkish cuisine; this baklava recipe and over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland; Signed hardback copies are now 30 % OFF here, and delivered worldwide, including the US – ebook option available too. Afiyet Olsun.

Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table book, available to order at this link

This recipe is an adaptation from Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, one of my favorite Turkish cookery authors.  My version of baklava is less sweet and more fragrant and lemony, must say really pleased with it. With using filo pastry sheets, baklava is much easier to make than you think. I hope you would give it a go sometime and enjoy this wonderful treat.

Also, here is my Baklava YouTube video, I hope you enjoy it:

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Serves 12
Preparation time :20 minutes                 Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes

230 gr/ 8oz / 1 cup melted unsalted butter
440 gr/1 lb. 2 packs of filo pastry sheets – total 24 sheets –
375 gr/ 13 oz. walnuts and unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
10 ml / 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the syrup:
450 gr/ 2 ¼ cups sugar
420 ml/ 14 fl. oz. / 1 ¾ cup water
Juice of ½ large lemon

30cmx19 cm (12inx7in) baking dish to bake

To serve:
Ground pistachio nuts to sprinkle over the baklavas

Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F / Gas 3

Make the syrup first. Put the sugar into a heavy pan, pour in water and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When the sugar is dissolved, lower the heat and stir in the lemon juice, them simmer for about 15 minutes, until the syrup thickens. Leave to cool in the pan.

Melt the butter in a small pan and then brush a little over the bottom and sides of the baking pan.

To thaw frozen filo sheets, it is best to place it in the fridge the night before and bring it to room temperature 2 hours before using. If in the fridge, take out the filo pastry sheets 20 minutes prior using, to bring to the room temperature. Place two sheets of filo pastry in the bottom of the greased pan and brush it with melted butter (trim from the edges to fit, if needed). Continue until you have used 12 filo sheets, brushing every two sheets with butter. Ease the sheets into the corners and trim the edges if they flop over the rim of the pan.

Spread the walnuts over the 12th buttered sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon, and then continue as before with the remaining filo sheets. Brush the top one as well, then, using a sharp knife cut diagonal parallel lines right through all the layers to the bottom to form small diamond shapes.

Bake the baklava into the oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden – if it is still pale, increase the temperature for a few minutes at the end.

When the baklava is ready, remove it from the oven and slowly pour the cooled syrup over the piping hot pastry. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to soak up the syrup, then take it out and leave to cool.

Once the baklava is cool, lift the diamond shaped pieces out of the pan and arrange them in a serving dish. Serve baklava pieces with ground pistachios over them, always at room temperature.

Note: Baklava should never be stored at the refrigerator, as the fat congeals, pastry absorbs the moisture and it becomes soggy.

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Afiyet Olsun,


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Lemon Cake – Limonlu Kek

My good friend Claire brought a wonderful lemon cake the other day. I am a huge fan of lemon – probably consume at least 1 lemon a day, in between salads and drinks! – And my love for the cakes is self explanatory. So the combination was irresistible to try. I had wholemeal self raising flour instead of plain and it worked really well too. This recipe is a keeper; very easy to make, light and full of refreshing, lemony flavor – thank you Claire!-. We baked the cake from today for Angus, for Father’s Day tomorrow – and I think everyone is a winner!

We Turks share the love of cakes and scones to go with tea time with the British. I love their “cream tea” with all the scones, clotted cream, jams and cakes. This so much reminds me of our afternoon rituals at home; cakes and pastries served with cay Turkish black tea, always brings happy memories.

This is for Angus and all fathers, for a Happy Father’s Day!

175 g/ 6 oz butter, softened plus extra for greasing
175g/ 6 oz/ scant 1 cup sugar
3 eggs
175g / 6 oz self raising flour (plain or wholemeal)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon warm water

For the Topping and filling:
85 g/3 oz sugar
Juice of 1 1/2 lemon
225g/8 oz mascarpone

Fresh berries to serve

Preheat oven to 190 C / 375 F

Lightly butter and line two baking pans.

Put all the cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water and beat until smooth.

Divide the mixture between the tins (baking pans), smooth the top and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the cake springs back when pressed.

Mix the topping sugar with the juice of one lemon and prick the cakes and spoon the mixture over the cakes. Cool, then transfer to a wire rack .

Add the remaining juice to the mascarpone and use this mixture to sandwich the cakes.

Slice the cake and serve with fresh berries.

Note: Best results are obtained when the eggs are at room temperature.

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Cherry & Almond Clafoutis – Visneli, Bademli Tatli

In the summer time Turkey’s orchards yield an abundant range of mouthwatering fruits. Cherries are amongst them; they are native to Anatolia and plentiful. We eat them in abundance as fresh fruit, make wonderful cherry jams out of them and put them in cakes and puddings. I adopted this lovely, fruity, easy to make pudding from the cookery book River Cottage Everyday, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of my favorite chefs in England. I added almonds to this classic French pudding, and the outcome took me to my childhood, the very welcoming smells of lovely cherry cakes and puddings after coming back from school, a very happy sight! It goes very well with coffee and tea or served as a dessert.

I like to stone the cherries, as the pudding is be heavily consumed by small children. You’re welcome not to stone them if you’d like and make the most of the juices.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes

425 gr / 15 oz cherries, stalks removed and stoned
50 gr / 1 3/4 ounce plain flour
30 ml / 2 tablespoon almond flakes
A pinch of sea salt
100 gr / 3 1/2 ounces caster sugar
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
240 ml / 8 fl oz whole milk
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F / Gas Mark 4

Lightly butter a 25 cm (10″) round baking dish or a 25×20 cm (10″x8″) rectangular one. Spread the cherries out in a single layer in the baking dish.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the almond flakes and sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs. Gradually draw in the flour from the sides, mixing well. Then beat in the milk, a little at a time, to form a smooth batter.

Pour the batter over the cherries and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, until golden and puffed up. This pudding is best eaten warm though still enjoyable when cold. You can dust with icing sugar before serving if you like. Serve it plain, or with some vanilla ice cream or clotted cream.

Afiyet Olsun!

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