Turkish Yogurt Cake with Lemons and Pistachios


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It’s been a wonderful Christmas break.  Having Paul home from college and all the kids together has been my favorite part of this holiday.  While the kids catch up on sleep after hours of old school video games I’m making this cake to deliver as one last holiday gift for the New Year.  Of course I’m doubling the recipe so there will some for the kids when the zesty fresh baked smells wake them up.  Soaked in zesty lemon syrup, this nutty, rich, cake is perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee.  It’s delicious all on its own or served with a dollop of fresh greek yogurt.  The candied lemons on top of this cake are my secret addiction. I always make extra along with extra syrup of course.

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Turkish Yogurt Cake with Lemons and Pistachios


  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus three tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1c water
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup finely ground pistachios



Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line the bottom and sides of a 10×5 loaf pan with parchment paper, then grease the paper with unsalted butter.  

In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until smooth.

Add the yogurt and beat until combined.

Reduce speed and slowly add the flour mixture, beating until combined.

Stir in pistachios and pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make the lemon syrup, in a small sauce pan combine the sugar and water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Continue to boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add the lemon slices and gently simmer for about 20 minutes until they are translucent.  Remove from heat and let stand. Note; I like to make extra syrup to serve with the slices of cake so I usually double this.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack.  Using a skewer, pierce the top all over and let cool for 20 minutes. 

Remove the limes from the syrup. Lay them flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment in a single layer.  Cover and let stand at room temperature until ready to use.

Drizzle the syrup over the cake reserving some for serving.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight.

The next day, invert the pan onto a plate.  Remove the pan and peel off the parchment. Turn the cake right side up and arrange the reserved lemon slices on top. Drizzle with any remaining syrup and serve. 

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