Ispanaklı Pasta or Ispanaklı Kek is a Turkish cake made using spinach. As well as making a really photogenic cake it also tastes better than you would imagine. There are quite a variety of different recipes, if you understand Turkish you can find plenty on the usual array of Turkish cooking sites such as yemek.com or if not there is a good one on the website of British lifestyle magazine Country Life. I combined a number of these to create a simplified version which is as follows:
- Blend 500g of wilted spinach with the juice and rind of one lemon and 120ml vegetable oil (i.e. a light olive oil) until purée consistency.
- Beat three medium eggs with 300g caster sugar until fluffy then fold in the spinach mixture.
- Then gradually mix in 250g self-raising flour and a pinch of salt. Pour into shallow tins lined with paper and oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°C. You can tell they’re ready if you push a skewer into the cake and it comes back out clean.
- The simplest cream for between the layers and on top can be made by just beating whipping cream with an electric whisk until firm and fluffy
Ispanaklı Pasta is really easy to make and there is a lot of room for creativity. Just a quick Google search shows some with one layer of sponge, or two, three or four. There is even a rolled version and some are decorated with crushed pistachios, melted chocolate, white icing, pomegranate seeds or fruit. This recipe makes enough for four and is a healthy alternative to other types of cake as its high in vitamins from the roughly 125g of spinach in each serving as well as the lemon juice, rind and olive oil.
An interesting side note for anyone interesting in etymology:
Kek in Turkish generally refers to a cake with no cream filling. It comes from the English word cake.
Pasta in Turkish is used for a cake with a cream filling. This is a loanword from Italian where pasta also means paste, dough or cake.