Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Turkish Pide

There was a request for a pide (pronounced pee-dah) recipe in the comments a while ago. Here it is with my apologies for delaying it until now. The recipe below is from Ayla Esen Algar's Classical Turkish Cooking, and is for a cheese pide; but in fact, the filling can be almost anything. We even use potatoes and eggplants in pides, and they are all delicious.

  • 4 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 3 1/2 c bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 c plus 1 tbs lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 c crumbled feta (or a combination of ricotta and feta)
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c chopped parsley or dill
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water and let satnd in a warm place for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, cover and let rise for 3o minutes.

Put the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center and put the sponge, salt, olive oil and lukewarm water. Gradually mix in the flour to make a soft and sticky dough. Knead it on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes. At the end of the kneading, the dough should become springy and no longer sticky, offering no resistance to kneading. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic and let rise for 1 hour.

Meanwhile prepare the filling by mixing all the ingredients.

Roll the pide dough into a log. Divide into 8 pieces and roll each into a ball. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F. (Ayla Esen Algar suggests a 550F oven and baking the pides on tiles which I have never tried myself.) Roll each ball into a 6"x12" oval. Spread 1/8th of the filling leaving a 1/2" border all along the edges. Fold the two long edges over the filling, making them almost meet at the center. Pinch together a 1-inch section at the two ends; you should have something resembling a canoe. Bake until the dough is lightly browned on top and more so at the bottom, and the filling seems set. You can brush them with melted butter as they come out of the oven. Keep warm stacked in a covered pan or in the folds of a towel until served.

Zeynep's Cookies

My older daughter made these cookies a while ago from a Pillsbury booklet. Judging by the fact that I came across the recipe in several Internet sites, it is a very popular one. Rightly so, too. The fudgy interior encircled in a chocolate rich dough makes it a delectable morsel, especially when served within a couple hours after baking.

My 3-year old helped her older sister by unwrapping Hershey's kisses. A little cookie dough was wrapped around eack kiss. Of course, if you are really discriminating when it comes to your chocolate, you can always substitute chunks of your favorite couverture.

The tiny balls of dough thus formed were lined slightly apart on an ungreased cookie tray. They were cooked only briefly.

Once they cooled, Zeynep decorated them with melted white chocolate. Some had our initials on them.

A bite revealed a molten white and dark chocolate interior like a miniature lava cake. Very delicious...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

And We Served the Cake

Today was the long awaited wedding day for our friends. I spent a good part of yesterday cutting, filling and crumb-coating the cakes. (It is just amazing how long it takes to go through those seemingly straightforward steps.) Later that night, my friend Aisha came and gave the cakes their final coat of buttercream. We took the cakes to our mosque early this morning. It took Aisha several hours to build up the tiers and to decorate with the flowers. Zeynep and I assisted her as she worked and learned quite a few tricks in the process. Unfortunately, none of my pictures came out good as it was quite dark inside. But a professional photographer also took some pictures of the cake (in its entirety), and I will post them as soon as I can.

The cake had 5 tiers (12", 10", 8", 6" and 4") and there was an extra 10" backup cake which ended up not being served. We raised the 8" cake with pillars and filled the area underneath it with cream-colored hydrangeas and tiny peach roses. It was a white butter cake with lemon curd and classic buttercream in between the layers and white chocolate cream cheese frosting outside. We served it with a lightly sweetened raspberry sauce on the side. (All the recipes are from RLB's Cake Bible. I do not know where we amateurs would be without this wonderful source!) The cake tasted quite good although I wish it had more time before it was served for the buttercream to soften. Six hours outside is usually ample time in the summers, but on a cold day like this, it apparently needed some more.

After all is said and done, I am very happy that I made this cake and that it was served without any major disasters. Every single time I bake a big cake, I tell myself that this will be the last time I do it. Of course, after a "healing period" of a couple of months, I start to think differently, and am ready to do it all over again. Today there was talk of a May wedding in the air, and although it is too early for me to commit to anything now, I feel that I may be up to the task come the month of May.