Turkish Semolina Cake – Revani

One of the tastiest cakes I ever ate in Turkey is one I make frequently here, very popular with a cup of good coffee; I might even get the cezme out on occasions and make Turkish coffee to go with it.

Revani was popular in the Ottoman times and you can just imagine the harem ladies gathering around to eat this delicately flavoured sweet cake. The moist sponge is usually flavoured with lemon as is the syrup that it is soaked in but you can use rose water (very reminiscent of Ottoman Turkey) orange zest or orange flower water, but don’t have too heavy a hand with any of these the flavor should be delicate. I have many recipes for revani given by friends all similar, this one is about the same. A couple of tips:

  • make the syrup the night before, not only to cool down but let the flavour you have used evolve.
  • I always grease my cake tin ( or cupcake cases) with olive oil works better than anything else.
  • I like to use Tesco’s Greek yoghurt – nearest to my favourite suzme Turkish yoghurt.
  • Revani keeps well for a couple of days so it is something you can prepare in advance but be wary of over flavouring if it is going to be sitting.
  • I top with walnuts as I like them but traditionally it is ground pistachio and coconut, really it is to your preference. the cake is versatile but makes an impression.

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Un kurabiye – Turkish shortbread

These delicious little shortbreads or kurabiye  are easy to make and go so well with a Turkish coffee or cup of tea. I am giving you the basic recipe but I also ( of course) add to that. I add orange or lemon peel and a little orange juice. I have added dry fruit, I especially love cranberries. I have also used a mixture of flour and ground almonds and although nice can be a little crumbly.

Basic Recipe:

  • I cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups flour ( + 1 teasp baking powder)
  • 2 x 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teasp vanilla essence or alternate flavouring.

Method:

  • Sift the icing sugar into a bowl
  • Add the butter & vanilla ( I add peel at this point if I am using it)
  • Cream together
  • Slowly sift flour and baking powder in, gently mixing with a wooden spoon.
  • Once combined, take one teasp of dough and shape into a ball.
  • Place on a baking tray with a little space between.
  • Cook in 160 deg C for 15-20 mins until firm yet they remain pale in colour.
  • Dust with icing sugar straight from the oven. let cool and dust again with icing sugar.

I made them some years ago with a Turkish neighbour of mine for her birthday tea. We had spent the afternoon baking and preparing food, there was about 4 or 5 of us ladies and we had a great time. It was summer and hot so after everything was ready we decided to go shower and change. When I returned I found her husband and brother sat in the salon looking quite woebegone. Ayse, my friend was really giving them a telling off, then I saw why; both had white moustaches! Yep they had been eating the kurabiye and the icing sugar had coated their real moustaches, they looked so funny.

Now the Turkish people don’t often make variations as the basic recipe is so delicious but I cannot help myself and the feedback I have had from family and Turkish friends has been very positive. In fact feeling nostaglic for a taste of  orange un kurabiye, so i am off to make myself some.

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Baklava

ATurkish desert pastry, layers of nuts, and pastry covered with honey syrup
Baklava

Every household or at least the ones I have been in have their own family recipe of baklava. This is the fabulous Turkish pastry that is a mix of very thin flaky pastry filled with nuts and honey syrup. Depending on the area you are from the nuts can be pistachio, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or a mixture of all.

I cheat, when I’m in Turkey I go to the Yufkacı (maker of Turkish style filo pastry) and buy the pastry. You can use filo or buy from a Turkish or Greek specialty shop. There is no way I can roll it as thin as the ladies I have met. They use an extremely long thin rolling pin and roll to less than 1mm thick – they are very proud of their skills in this and rightly so – mine just came out in holes!

So cheating makes it simple…

Grease a deep based baking tray. Place a layer of dough over it. Sprinkle a handful of your choice of nut, don’t over fill, Continue to layer like this.  How many layers you ask – how long is a piece of string. Really up to your own judgment, I would go for 6-8 layers. End with a dough layer.

Cut into 2-4cm rectangles. Put into 180˚C for 30mins

Cook 1kg sugar with 250grams of water until sugar dissolves and it is starting to thicken. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice, I tbsp honey. Mix together. Let cool.

Pour the cooled syrup over lukewarm baklava and leave for up to an hour in a cool place. Serve with ice-cream if you want and if you can get kahramanmaraș ice-cream you will be in heaven. This is s special ice-cream that you can ‘cut with a knife’.

Kahmarmanmaras the ice cream you can cut with a knife.
Maras ice cream

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