“Citrus, Sweet & Savory Sun-kissed Recipes.” By Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson. Penguin Random House. $19.95

I volunteered to try a recipe for a Turkish yogurt-lime cake from the cookbook “Citrus” for familial reasons. The first: My parents long ago gave up their snowbird status and became year-round residents of Florida, which means I get boxes of yummy citrus shipped to me every year in the depths of winter.

And second: My husband’s grandmother – a remarkable matriarch in his family – spent her childhood in Istanbul, what she called Constantinople. Nuver Khachdoor Yramian fled Turkey in the thick of the Armenian Genocide, eventually settling in Boston. Her cooking, and much of her vocabulary, was a mash-up of Armenian and Turkish delights.

Making this dish evoked sweet memories of her, and her incredible journey to a new life.

The cookbook itself offers a wonderful range of recipes, with an index arranged by course (breakfast, starters, main, desserts, etc.) There’s also a helpful primer on buying, storing, peeling, zesting and segmenting citrus. And directions for converting tangerine peels into a chemical-free kitchen cleanser (who knew?).

Even if you’re not much of a cook, you’d enjoy this book. The photos are as luscious as a perfectly ripened Valencia. It’s sweet respite from the final weeks of winter.

Sweet is a good description for this cake, too, since it steeps in a lime syrup overnight. The yogurt and pistachios combination give it a light texture. My only disappointment was in the subtlety of the flavors. I expected more punch since the authors said it was a good accompaniment to strong Turkish coffee.

Next time I might replace the lime with a honeybell – those super sweet oranges that make me weep with joy – and add a little salt, too.

Still, my husband, always a willing judge for any new confection I pull out of the oven, proclaimed the cake “harmoove.”

That’s Armenian for “tasty.”


I didn’t have self-rising flour so substituted a mix of 2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Also, though the instructions call for parchment paper, I just greased a new, nonstick loaf pan and it worked fine. Finally, the batter was really thick, so I smoothed it into the corners of the pan and leveled the top before putting the cake in the oven.

Makes 6-8 servings


2 cups of self-rising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

½ cup plus 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup finely ground pistachios


1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 lime, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom and sides of a 10 by 5-inch 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. (Or just use a hand mixer, as I did).

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until smooth. Add the yogurt and continue to beat until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture, beating until well combined. Stir in the pistachios and pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake the cake for about an hour, until a thin wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make the syrup, in a small saucepan, 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 lime slices and gently simmer for about 20 minutes until they are translucent. Remove from the heat and let stand.

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

Remove the limes from the syrup, transfer them to a small bowl, cover and let stand at room temperature until ready to use. Drizzle the syrup over the cake. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight.

The next day, invert the pan onto a serving plate, lift off the pan and peel off the parchment. Turn the cake right side up and arrange the reserved lime slices on top. Slice thickly to serve.

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