By: Danya Weiner
Every Tuesday I make the haul to Jerusalem to teach Studio Photography at Hadassah College. And every Tuesday I pass by the little bakery next to the college and buy myself three little savory cheese pastries to start my day (I’m preggers, im allowed). Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a new cake in the glass display at the bakery that provoked in me a indistinct memory. The third time I saw the cake it hit me. It reminded me of a cake my mom used to make when I was a child; the memory was so faint though that I was thought that I was making it up. One call to my mom and the issue was solved. She used to make a cake just like the one I had described from the glass display, and she confirmed how much I used to love it.
I asked the guy behind the display what the name of the cake is. He said, kadaif and vanilla cream cake. I said, really, that’s it? No fancy name like Napoleon or Black Forest cake. No, he replied-what you see is what you get. In light of the blog and the generations to come (the third on his way), I took it upon myself to attempt to recreate the cake. I decided not to go to the origin and ask my mom for the recipe, but to try to recreate the taste, one memory at a time.
First, the kadaif. Kadaif are like little vermicelli noodles used often in Arab and Turkish desserts. In Israel they can be found in speciality stores, shuks and sometimes even in the frozen section of the supermarket. Abroad, the best bet would be to go to a local Arab market. I buy mine at the mecca of kadaif noodles, at the “Leon and Sons Bakery” in Yaffo. Leon’s kadaif are known to be the best you can find in Israel, and I’ve fallen in love with the stuff. While working with kadaif, tons of recipes, both savory and sweet were running through my head. Be prepared for some more recipes with kadaif soon.
At Leon’s they recommended baking the kadaif noodles with melted butter and a lot of powdered sugar, which helps to caramelize them making them crispier for longer.
Second, the vanilla cream. I remembered that my mom used to make the cream using instant vanilla pudding. For the sake of modernity and my love for a proper vanilla pastry cream, I decided to go all out and make the cream from scratch.
Some tips before getting started:
Kadaif and Vanilla Cream Cake
Ingredients for an 11×9-inch baking dish:
For the noodles:
14 oz./400 grams kadaif noodles
1 stick (4 oz./125 grams) butter, melted
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
For the vanilla cream:
500 ml. milk
1 vanilla bean pod, halved lengthwise
4 egg yolks
3.5 oz./100 grams sugar
1.5 oz./40 grams cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1.5 oz./40 grams powdered sugar
For the raspberry coulis:
5 oz./150 grams raspberries, fresh or frozen (and defrosted)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar