Tispishti is a classic Turkish walnut cake bathed in syrup. It has a moist texture and, surprisingly, is not too sweet. Gilda Angel’s Sephardic Holiday Cooking uses honey syrup, but most recipes for this cake use lemon-scented sugar syrup, which is lighter. Some cooks pour cooled syrup over the hot cake. Others pour warm syrup over a cooled cake. The cake is also called tishpishti, tishpitti, tichpichti, and tezpisti. Although one recipe uses 1½ cups walnuts and ½ cup almonds, and another uses part walnuts and part hazelnuts, walnuts usually are the signature flavor. If you are serving the cake at a dairy meal, a dollop of whipped cream is a nice enhancement.
To make the syrup, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the syrup thickens slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add orange-flower or rose water, if desired.
Butter a 10-by-l4-by-3-inch baking pan.
To make the cake, place the egg yolks in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale yellow. Gradually add the sugar and beat until thick and pale. Dissolve the baking soda in the orange juice and add to the egg yolks along with the vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined. Stir in the grated zest and nuts.
In another bowl, using the electric mixer and clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir one-third of the beaten whites into the yolk-nut mixture, then fold in the remainder. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
For korydato, a Greek Passover walnut cake from Ioannina, omit the baking soda and replace
© 2000 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.