Are you a fan of sweet, syrupy Mediterranean desserts like baklava? Here is another sweet to add to your list. It’s a popular Turkish dessert called "ekmek kadayıfı" (eck-MECK’ kah-dah-YUF’-uh).
The best way to describe this Turkish classic is something like a mix between baklava and bread pudding. It’s actually a very simple dessert made from layers of rusk-like break saturated in syrup and topped with ‘kaymak,’ or Turkish clotted cream.
‘Ekmek kadayıfı’ shouldn’t be confused with "tel kadayıfı," or shredded dough, another popular dessert ingredient.
Like its syrupy cousins "şekerpare" and "künefe," "ekmek kadayıfı" can be found nearly everywhere in Turkey from the best restaurants to workplace cafeterias. It’s also a popular dish to make at home because you can buy ready-made "ekmek kadayıfı" in most markets. It comes in different sizes ready to be soaked in syrup and garnished with cream and nuts.
The best place to enjoy authentic "ekmek kadayıfı" dessert is in a good Turkish restaurant. If you want to make it at home, you can sometimes find the ingredients in Middle Eastern markets or on websites that sell Turkish ingredients.
You can also experiment with different types of bread. A large loaf with a porous but firm texture that holds up in lots of syrup will work well. Remove the crust with a sharp knife, then cut the bread into large slices about an inch thick.
- 1 medium-sized package dry "ekmek kadayıf"
- 4 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of ½ lemon)
- 1/4 cup pistachio nuts (ground, for garnish)
- 1 cup Turkish "kaymak" (or clotted cream, for garnish)
If you are using ready "ekmek kadayıfı," you have to wet it down first with boiling water to soften it. Begin by placing the "kadayıf" browned-side-down in a shallow, round tray of the same size. Pour enough boiling water over the bread to cover it, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
When time is up, remove the wet bread, and place it on a clean towel or a thick layer of folded paper towels.
Wring out the extra water by pressing down on the bread evenly. Let it rest on the towel for a few minutes. Discard the water in the tray and put the moistened bread back inside.
Using a sharp knife, cut a large cross shape at the center of the moistened bread. This will help the syrup penetrate. Place the metal tray on the stove over low heat. Slowly drizzle the syrup over the top. Turn the tray around over the burner to help the bread absorb the syrup evenly.
Put the sugar in a large pan, and let it melt slowly over medium heat. Let it caramelize until it turns a dark honey color. Add the water, and bring it to a boil.
Once it boils, add the lemon juice. Let the syrup simmer gently for about 10 minutes then turn off the heat. The syrup should be thick and the color of light honey.
All the bread should become saturated with the syrup which will cause it to darken. When all the syrup is completely absorbed, remove the tray from the heat, and let it cool down.
To serve, cut the "ekmek kadayıfı" in squares or triangles. The traditional way to garnish it is to put a thick layer of clotted cream between two layers of bread, but you can also put it on top instead. Sprinkle the top of the dessert with crushed nuts.