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imam cagdas-finishing baklava 2 copy

Middle Easterners are famous for their sweet tooth and I am no exception. I may no longer like chocolate but I still love other sweets, in particular baklava, a generic term describing a range of pastries made with filo or ‘hair’ pastry and filled with nuts and sometimes kaymak (thick cream). However, despite my curiosity for all things culinary from when I was a child, I had never seen commercial baklava being made until I visited the kitchens of Gulluoglu in Istanbul with my dear friend, Nevin Halici, and those of Imam Cagdas in Gaziantep with another dear friend, Filiz Hosukoglu, where an army of sweet-makers were making everything by hand, from rolling the filo to filling and shaping the different types of baklava to drenching it in sugar syrup. And from the very beginning to the very end, the process is mesmerising. Here are some pictures I snapped in Imam Cagdas’ baklava kitchens where they bake the baklava in a wood-fired oven.

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This may be the last of my yufka posts unless I find good clips and photographs from my visits to Gulluoglu and Imam Cagdas. Yufka for baklava is much thinner than that for regular or su boreks. Until then, you have to do with these clips I shot in a cafe where we had stopped not far from Safranbolu, a UNESCO world heritage site. It was lucky we arrived as the woman was rolling out yufka for su borek (possibly the most famous of all boreks, a meat or cheese pie that is baked whole then divided into square portions). The yufka for su borek is boiled before being used to make the pie, a little like lasagna, and I had been wanting to see the process from when I had read about it in Nevin Halici’s Turkish Cookbook, which by the way is totally brilliant.

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