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Turkish Green Pistachio Cake ~ Yeşil Yayla Tatlısı May 22, 2011

Posted by Paula Erbay in Desserts.
Tags: , , , ,

I first tasted this wonderful cake at a TALL luncheon.  TALL is the acronym for “Turkish American Ladies League”, being approximately 5’3” tall I jumped at the chance to belong to a group called TALL – plus I support the charities they endorse, and the women themselves are fabulous.

The luncheon featured a fashion show (modeled by some mothers and daughters of TALL), and food prepared by various members.  The food was amazing!  To say Turkish women are good cooks is redundant, but these women really prepared some outstanding dishes.

Coffee and dessert was served after the fashion show.  Several of us were swooning with delight at the taste of the pistachio cake when we were joined by two of the models, Aydan and her lovely daughter Inci.  When we enthusiastically recommended they try the pistachio cake we were met with what seemed to be embarrassed laughter.  It turns out that Aydan had made that very cake!

Inci volunteered to send us the recipe, her mother made it from one printed in a 1994 issue of the Turkish magazine Sofra. She had hoped to also provide an English translation, but as a recent college graduate was soon packing to start her new career in another city.  Fortunately for me, she took time to provide a copy of the original recipe – in Turkish.

The recipe that follows is based on my limited knowledge of Turkish, the online Turkish dictionary, and my knowledge of baking.  If you’ve read any Turkish recipes you’ll know that their measurements include:  soup spoons, teaspoons, water glass, tea glass, coffee cup, compote bowl, etc.  So, in addition to translating the words themselves, I have also converted those measurements into ones that American kitchens are more familiar with.  I hope you enjoy the results and much as I enjoyed Aydan’s cake.

1 cup ground pistachios (110 grams) – Raw (dry roasted unsalted can be substituted)
1/3 C pistachios, chopped for topping (2 ounces, approx. 50 grams)
5 eggs – separated (extra large)
1/3 C granulated sugar (80 grams)
½ C flour 
1 Tbl  semolina
2 Tbl + 1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder

2 ½ C granulated sugar
2 ½ C water
Juice of ½ lemon (approx 2 Tbl)

Make syrup first as it needs to cool: Mix water and sugar in saucepan. Allow the sugar and water to softly boil about 10 minutes then add the lemon juice and take off the heat. The syrup should be “sticky” but not caramelized.

Grind the nuts in a food processor: use “on/off” to ensure the nuts do not become a paste (about 110 grams or 1 ¼ Cup raw shelled whole – final after grinding should be 1 Cup).

Preheat the oven to 350°F
Grease and flour 9×13 pyrex baking pan (or generously spray with PAM Baking)

Whip the egg whites with electric mixer and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In electric mixer beat egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow, slowly add the flour, semolina and oil. When all incorporated add the baking powder and ground nuts. The batter will be rather heavy/stiff at this point. Add a couple large spoons of the egg whites to the batter in the mixer – blend in at the slowest setting. Manually fold the remainder of the egg whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan – smooth if necessary so it’s even. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes (a cake tester should come out clean).

Pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake – do it in stages to be sure it’s all incorporated and evenly distributed (I pricked the top of the cake with my cake tester first). Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the top. Serve “as is” or with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.



1. hope - January 24, 2013

it looks so delicious …thank you for this recette

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