January 20, 2011

Taksim, Istanbul. June, 2007

Mmmmmm. Ekmek kadayif. Syrup-soaked bread topped (if you like) with the thick creamy delight called kaymak. I came to Istanbul determined to try this elusive sweet and did...on my very first day in the city and on several subsequent occasions. I’d initially learned of this dish from Maura Kilpatrick’s recipe for Palace Bread in Spice (the cookbook by Ana Sortun from her great Cambridge restaurant, Oleana.) Once I read it, I was on a mission. (Alas, Oleana only occasionally features this dessert and never, as it happens, when I’ve been there for dinner.) When I asked Murat about it at the Turkish-Armenian Sevan Bakery in my Watertown, Massachusetts, neighborhood, he told me it was made with bread that “you can’t get in the United States.” Well, I’ll show you! I’ll go to Istanbul. Here at Saray pastry shop, I finally had my first taste. Dense and cloying with sweet syrup, it was magnificent. Of course, I wanted more. (Later in the week, I found a young man selling it by the pound in a small market in Uskudar on the Asian side of the city and bought quite a bit.) Egyptian recipes for “palace bread” tend to soak the bread in honey, while Turkish recipes call for a simple sugar syrup, sometimes scented with rosewater. And recently I was thrilled to find a recipe in Armenian Cooking Today (it calls for “Holland rusks” aka zweiback), a gift from my sister-friends Lisa and Susan. Whenever Nick and I travel somewhere together, we tend to take on nicknames drawn from our surroundings. In Turkey, I am always, if you please, Ekmek Kadayif.


  1. Both the ekmek and the kaymak look pretty good to this dieter and the 12 plates of it in the photo would be a great breakfast right about now... I wish I could remember my Turkish name, didn't it have something to do with bayeldi or swooning?

  2. Patrice Gisele d'ArmentiersJanuary 20, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Isn't it Shadrach Meshach Abednego?

    Just a thought!