Baking is just like your boyfriend going for a boys’ night out. In baking you can only hope you have picked a reliable recipe and measured your ingredients right. Stove top cooking always gives you a chance to open the lead and fix things going wrong. Not the baking: once you send your creation to the oven you can’t control the outcome anymore. Same with the boys’ night out. If you pick the right guy in whom you trust and if you have enough self-confidence you can wish him a great boys’ night out with a light heart.
The other day we came back from Sapanca to Istanbul straight into a fish restaurant where the long-time-no-see friends of Özgür were having dinner. A long table was full: people were coming and going, meeting new folk and old-time friends; some had the starters (meze) while some proceeded to the dessert and everyone was drinking raki, the ultimate binding drink in Turkey.
A sturdy guy with a sleeve tattoo flashed a smile at us and got up to greet. Özgür and him patted each other on the back, hugged and cheek-kissed twice according to the customary practice between good friends in Turkey. “This is Emre”, Özgür introduced his friend to me. We cheek-kissed with Emre too. We exchanged greeting with everyone else at the table, sat down and placed our order.
The whole evening I was watching Özgür: he was so shining and happy to meet the guys he has not see for a long while. “You have very decent friends,” – I told him and he laughed, “Why? Can you call this carousing crowd decent?“. I shrugged my shoulders: “You are a decent guy yourself. Could you go wrong with choosing your friends?“.
A few hours down I offered Özgür to take me home since I had a walk next morning, “You can totally come back to the guys“. He was shocked with the notion, “You really don’t mind me coming back?” as a bewildered kid who had asked his parents many times if he can eat the whole box of ice-cream and all of a sudden was granted permission. Later on I figured that while practice of boys’ and girls’ night out is religiously maintained by committed folk in big cities like Istanbul there is another practice that is even more religiously maintained – ranting about your other half doing that. And I broke the norm of ranting.
Özgür drove me home, left the car and took a cab back where we left the guys. He called in half an hour, “I am with the guys. They asked why I came back. They are so impressed that you let me and wondered if you have a sister“. I laughed and wished him a good night.
He came back at about 7 am: I heard the key turning and woke up. Our bedroom got enveloped in the smell of anise and spirit indicating the guys continued the night with raki. Özgür arranged the jeans, T-shirt and socks he took off into a neat stack. I admire man who can compose themselves even in such difficult life moments.
He was preventive, still not completely sure what to expect from me. “We sent Rubi home ’cause you know, his wife is pregnant and went to Emre’s house to play PlayStation. I bored everyone to death talking about you“. I got up to prepare my boys-night-out-returned boyfriend a good breakfast and put icing on the perfectly baked cake.
Quince and Walnut Cake Styled as Banana Bread
This quince and walnut cake flavored up by dry cranberries and spices is winter food at its best: seasonal, warming, substantial!
Source: Inspired by Jamie Oliver and Marina Khonina
Prep Time: 20 Min
Cook Time: 1 Hr
- 250 g sugar
- 5 eggs divided
- 8 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 170 g flour sieved
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 250 g quince peeled and grated
- 150 g walnuts coarsely chopped (can be replaced with pecan nuts)
- 50 g dry cranberries (can be replaced with other dry sour berries)
- dash freshly ground nutmeg
- dash ground clove
- Get ready for baking: Preheat the oven to 180C / 355F. Grease your tin and line it with baking paper: I used a 28 sm loaf tin but you can definitely get away with a square or round form.
- Make batter: In a large mixing bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth and pale. Stir in olive oil. Slake baking powder with lemon juice: simply mix the two in a separate small bowl to neutralize the taste of the baking powder in the resulting cake. Add the slaked baking powder to the batter. Gradually sieve the flour and add cinnamon, nutmeg and clove to the batter and mix well. Add grated quince, chopped walnuts and dry cranberries: the batter will be rather thick at this point so set aside the whisk and use a wooden spoon to mix and don’t be frustrated about the texture yet. In a clean dry bowl whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and carefully transfer them to the batter. Mix gently until homogenous.
- Bake: Pour the batter into your tin lined with baking paper and send to the oven for about 50-70 minutes. After 50 minutes definitely check your cake with a toothpick. Stick the toothpick in the cake for 5 seconds and if it comes out clean the cake is cooked; if slightly sticky, it needs a bit longer, so put it back in the oven.
- Let cool and serve: Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out on to a rack and rest for at least an hour. I mean it: it is not a crime to eat the cake earlier but it will be a bit more moist as it gets its final texture (on the photo) in 1 hour. The cake will keep well for 4-5 days if stored in a plastic container and refrigerated.