Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Cakes and Desserts

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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Turkish Delight – Lokum

We got a package from my parents in Turkey recently – a happy sight!-. They love spoiling us (especially the grandchildren!) and the package was full of treats; Turkish delights, pistachio nuts, Turkish coffee and many more. The Turkish delight is a special treat for my children and the real thing is not too sweet but fragrant, moist and full of flavor.

Prior to the arrival of refined sugar in the late 18th century, the Ottomans made a crude version of Turkish Delight using honey or pekmez, a concentrated grape syrup and wheat flour. Haci Bekir, a confectioner of the time, became famous due to his ingenious use of white sugar and corn starch and was summoned to Topkapi Palace to pioneer the development of what is today one of Turkey’s hallmarks. Special recipes for variations of Turkish Delight can be found in all regions of Turkey. Dried fruits, nuts, seeds and desiccated coconut are incorporated into the luscious mouthfuls of fragrant jelly. Sakiz (mastic gum) another ingredient revered by the Sultans, can be used to create a chewier version and is a must if you are preparing rolled up versions of lokum. This recipe is for sade – plain lokum, delicately flavored with fragrant rose water. However, you may wish to add shelled and chopped nuts of your choice – hazelnuts, pistachio nuts or walnuts work extremely well. I strongly suggest making it a day before serving, so that the mixture can settle down well.

My late mother-in-law, dear Penny Mum, absolutely loved Turkish Delight, and this is for her memory.

Serves 6 – 8
Preparation time – 15 minutes Cooking time – 20 minutes

450 gr / 1 lb fine white sugar
470 ml / 1 pint/ 2 cups water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons rose water
6 tablespoons corn flour / cornstarch
sifted icing sugar / confectioners sugar for dusting

Line a shallow tray or pan (8in square) with a piece of muslin and dust with a little corn flour. Combine the rose water and corn flour to make a smooth paste and set a side.

In a pan combine sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, and over a medium heat, stir constantly, allowing the sugar to dissolve and taking care the mixture doesn’t burn.

Add a little of the hot sugar syrup to the rose water and corn flour and mix thoroughly. Remove the pan of sugar syrup from the heat, add the rose water and corn flour mix and whisk thoroughly.

Return to a medium heat, continue to stir until the mixture takes on a clearer appearance and thickens to a jelly type consistency. Remove from the heat; at this point add chopped nuts of your choice (optional).

Pour the mixture onto the prepared tray and allow to cool and set, preferably overnight.
Turn out the lokum onto a work surface well dusted with icing sugar. Remove the muslin, cut into squares, dust generously with more icing sugar and serve.

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