Kibrisli cake

This is my recreation of a cake made by Emin’s sister-in-law at their joint family home on the Bosphorus, Kibrisli Yalisi. I like it best served as a pudding with a bowl of soft fruit and some whole milk yogurt or crème fraîche.


  • 5 large free-range eggs, separated
  • 250 g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 125 g semolina
  • 125 g ground almonds
  • pinch of baking powder
  • 150 ml water
  • ¼ level teaspoon salt
  • 1 level tablespoon sesame seeds
  • butter for greasing

For the syrup

  • 175 g golden granulated or caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • just under 300 ml water
  • juice of 1 lemon

To finish

  • 1 level tablespoon sesame seeds


Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Lightly butter a deep 20 cm round cake tin (not one with a loose base) and line with a disc of greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar and grated lemon rind together until very pale. Then add the semolina, ground almonds, baking powder and water and whisk until smooth.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they stand in soft peaks. Using a metal spoon, fold them gently into the yolk mixture and then pour into the prepared cake tin. Sprinkle the sesame seeds lightly over the surface and bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the cake feels firm to a gentle touch in the middle.

While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Put the granulated sugar, honey and water into a saucepan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve, then increase the heat and boil briskly, without stirring, for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour in the lemon juice through a sieve and stir in. Stand the pan in a sink of cold water to cool.

Once cooked, stand the cake in its tin on a wire rack. Spoon the cold syrup slowly and evenly over the hot cake, letting it soak in. Leave until cold, then carefully run a knife around the inside of the tin and turn the cake out; you may have to shake the tin to release it. Turn the cake the right way up onto a serving plate and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.