Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hulkiye's Turkish Fruit Cake

When I was in Turkey this past January I did my best to learn some Turkish recipes.  I wanted to be able to re-create some of the savory meals, creamy soups, oh-so-delicious pastries and scrumptious cakes that we enjoyed in Turkey.  I would eagerly hang around in the kitchen when meal-prep or baking was underway.  H.'s mom knew that I wanted to learn, so she would call me in and explain to me what she was doing, by showing and using some words that I could understand. 

In this way I learned how to make an incredibly tasty chicken with roasted almonds, and I now know the secret to an intensely rich and creamy soup, without using even a drop of cream.   Perhaps I'll share these secrets soon (although many may already know them, they were news to me).  

However, one of the recipes I was most eager to learn was the famous fruit cake.  Ever since I first began dating H., I heard about this incredibly tasty cake that his mom would make for him and send in packages while H. was away at university.  This cake was the favorite of the dormitory and won H.'s mom cake-baking fame among college friends.  I'm sure it is famous in many social circles in Maras as well.  Now it's fame has come to the USA - and I am eager to replicate this delicious treat.

The first slice!
This cake could be spruced up with a little sugary syrup drizzled on top , if desired.
 As is, it is a nice, no-too-sweet, treat that goes great with tea.
Replicating a Turkish recipe is not always an easy feat.  Yes, there are recipe books that lay it out nice and clear, step by step.  However, most recipes are not written, ingredients do not conform to standard measurements, and in fact, many beautiful creations are based on what is on hand at that moment, without any extra trips to the local grocer.

H. has collected many of these recipes from his mom while living in the US.  When feeling homesick, a meal from home would help ease the soreness and bring an indescribable joy.  A while back, H. had collected this recipe for Turkish Fruit Cake.  So today I asked if he could share it with me so I could whip up a tasty cake and use up some of the Cuties (mandarin oranges) drying out on my counter.  So here is the recipe - Turkish measuring style and all.

Hulkiye's Turkish Fruit Cake

3 eggs at room temperature
1 water glass of sugar*
3 water glasses of flour
1 heaping TURKISH teaspoon of baking powder**
1 water glass milk OR orange juice
(we like to add the orange juice to make the cake fruitier, fresh-squeezed is the best option)
1 water glass oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract(my addition because I love vanilla)
15 or so dried apricots, cut into 6 pieces
A handful of raisins
A handful of chopped walnuts (or whatever other type of nut you have on hand)
Zest of small orange
The few handfuls of dried fruit - this is what makes the cake! 

Cuties - so bright and cheerful!

Preheat oven to 350F or (180C)
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar, mixing well.
Add vanilla extract at this point if you want to add it .
(NOTE: if you want to use the Turkish powdered vanilla, add that the flour mixture instead)
Add oil and milk or juice to egg and sugar mixture, mix well.

All the liquids together.

In a separate bowl, put the 3 glasses of flour and stir in the heaping teaspoon of baking powder.  Add the apricots, raisins and walnuts and coat them in the flour (this will help prevent them from sinking into the cake as it bakes).  Add the orange zest.

Now, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix by hand.  Batter will be fairly thick.

After the flour is mixed in the batter is quite thick and you might need a good silicone spatula to get the last drop out. 

Grease and flour a bundt pan.  Add batter to pan.
Bake for 1 hour - you want the cake to be a little crispy to keep the moisture in and stay fresh longer.

Just right!

* Water glass can mean whatever you want it to mean - the basic idea is you use the same glass to measure everything so the proportions are the same.  That being said - I used a coffee mug that was about 1 cup and that seemed to work well.
** Turkish teaspoon is not the same as a measuring teaspoon- but probably similar.  When the Turks say "teaspoon" they mean the tiny spoons used to stir sugar into tea.  So if you use a measuring teaspoon - make sure to make it heaping!

 I'm sure other dried fruits could be easily substituted for the apricots and raisins - and as I mentioned, I didn't actually use orange juice, but a similar citrus fruit and the result was the same - delicious!  So the moral of the story is be creative and bake with love, and the taste will show it!

It took all those little cuties to make a cup, but it was worth it and I used up some fruit that was at the end of its prime and would have spoiled otherwise.  Win-Win.


  1. We hate measuring things out for cooking - kind of takes the fun out of it all. We made a yoghurt and semolina cake a while back and that worked really well so might just try our hand at making this yummy looking fruit cake. :)

    1. Yogurt and semolina sound like a winning combination - do you have the recipe on your website? I'll take a look. I hope you try out this cake - it's one of our favorites and great in the winter when fresh fruit is not as plentiful. Thanks for the comment :-)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks April! It was - I just finished off two big slices for breakfast. It goes great with coffee too.

  3. I'll give this a go - looks tasty.

    1. Thanks Back to Bodrum - I hope it turns out well for you. It's fairly healthy too, as far as cakes go!

  4. Looks like you did an excellent job to replicate the recipe! I'm a stickler for precise measurements when it comes to baking, which is why I usually weigh everything in grams. I can't help it. :-)

    1. Thanks Joy! I'm sure it's the professional baker and pastry chef in you that calls for precision :-) Weighing must help to get consistent results. Funny part of this - when H. had his first piece he said it was very good, but not quite like his mom's cake. He said there is probably something she does or adds but doesn't think to tell us. Oh well - it's still tasty!


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