Our dad’s mom, Yiayia Maria, would make this cake for us and we loved it, still do! It was a favorite of our grandfather’s who hailed originally from Smyrna (now Izmir in Turkey) and he preferred it to all other sweets. That tells you something right there because he had one, SWEET tooth 🙂
You can tell this cake recipe has it’s roots in Asia Minor from these key ingredients: white (fancy) flour, white sugar AND spiced almond milk. The Persians brought almond milk to Constantinople and the trick to using it in baking will change the way you use, and drink, almond milk forever more!
Because almond milk is made up of some crazy-percent water, baking with it is like using – well, plain water. The trick here is to spice the milk and then to reduce it by more than half over low heat. Takes about 10 minutes, no fussing with it, and the end product is a much thicker (though not ‘thick’) almost creamy liquid. Persians would add a drop of honey or grape molasses for sweetness and drink before bed. I’ve tried it and it’s a lovely, light, aromatic way to go off to sleep.
In this recipe, a bit of citrus juice is added to the cooled almond milk reduction giving you something akin to buttermilk for the most perfect, light, airy cake crumb. The cake flavor is delicately spiced enough to stand on it’s own with just a dusting of powdered sugar OR, and equally authentic, topped with your favorite jam and sprinkled with coconut flakes. Can’t you just taste it?!
Traditionally served in small slices with Greek coffee, Constantinople cake is the perfect way to celebrate an occasion or end a lovely meal. However, whenever you choose to enjoy it – you will not be disappointed!
The recipe below is compiled from a few different sources as, unfortunately, my yiayia’s original recipe was never written down. It’s a simple recipe and I’ve detailed all your steps so no guessing. This recipe is the very closest I can get to the original, reminds me so much of Yiayia, and it is WONDERFUL.
- 2 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- cinnamon stick
- 2 tbsp orange zest (1 medium orange)
- 10 pods cardamom pods, use crushed seeds or scant 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup sesame (or vegetable) oil
- 1, 12 ounce jar of your favorite jam or 1 cup powdered sugar
Και πώς το λένε το κέικ στα ελληνικά;;
Πραγματικά δεν ξέρω! Η γιαγιάμου απλά το αποκαλούσε “Κέικ του παππούli” 🙂
reply in English: I don’t really know! my grandmother always called it ‘Papouli’s cake’ (grandpa’s cake) 🙂
Θα το αποκαλέσω «Πολίτικη Τούρτα»!
Can it be made without almond milk? I have a nut intolerance
I wouldn’t recommend it! check out our milopita / apple cake recipe. it’s delicious and the walnuts are completely optional 🙂
This recipe looks moist and lovely, redolent with cardamum and rosewater. I wonder what your favorite jam to use in this recipe is? We used orange marmalade but I don’t think that is traditional maybe just what we always had on hand.
strawberry is my favorite! not very exotic but I could spread strawberry jam on a piece of paper and love it 🙂
orange marmalade is my absolute favorite on toast that is just a bit burnt……. I think it’s time for just that snack!
Success! Made this on Saturday to serve on Mother’s Day, easy and delicious. As you say the flavors deepen as the cake sits. The almond milk reduction is a revelation and infused with the spices – magic :-)))
Thank you Kiki and love from Cape Town, South Africa
hello! i can’t wait to make this. wondering if you think homemade almond milk will work?
yes, absolutely! that’s, of course, what was used traditionally 🙂
just remember not to sweeten or flavor your homemade almond milk and you should be good to go, Kiki 🙂
awesome kiki! our greek inspired memorial day party got rained out so i am holding out on making this cake for another occasion. but will be sure to let you know when i make this!
Thank you Kiki. I made the cake today and it turned out well. My vegan husband loved it! I dusted it with icing sugar and served with fresh strawberries. Beautiful!!!
hi, looks amazing! do you think orange blossom water would work instead of rose water? Or it would be too “orangey” with the juice and zest? thank you!
Yes! I think it would be wonderful! may steal the substitution myself next time 🙂