Sephardic Recipes With A Modern Twist

Sephardic Spice Girls

Tishpishti is such a throwback to the flavors of my childhood in my grandmother’s kitchen.

Sharon and I have been Instagram friends with Beth Lee from @omgyummy since 2020. In 2021, when she published “The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook,” I immediately bought it. I loved every page. Beth really did her research. The book features many traditional Sephardic recipes such as burekas, boyos, sweet rolls, malawach, pastellicos, as well as all Ashkenazi favorites like blintzes, apple strudel, babka and rye bread. She really covers the spectrum of “essential “ baking.

We were so happy to finally meet her face to face at a Jewish Food Lab event at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Beth immediately filled the room with her infectious energy, doing what she called her “tishpishti dance.” As I watched her make her tishpishti cake and then tasted this delicious cake, I knew that this was the dessert that I was going to make this Rosh Hashana. I’d been meaning to try the recipe forever and this was the nudge I needed. 

When we reached out to Beth, she was so gracious about sharing her recipe with our readers. She was so proud that we loved her cake. 

It is a super easy cake to bake and though the cake is drenched in a citrusy sugar syrup, it truly is as light as air. My kids will never touch a dense honey cake, so this is the perfect dessert to serve them.


Tishpishti is such a throwback to the flavors of my childhood in my grandmother’s kitchen. The nuanced layering of walnuts and almond flour. The sugar syrup with the essence of lemon and orange. The only difference between the one my grandmother would make was substituting cardamom for the cinnamon stick. I can still picture my grandmother cutting her cake diagonally into diamond shapes and placing a whole shelled almond square in the center. 



Recipe from “The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook,” by Beth A. Lee, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2021 by Callisto Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This honey almond cake was originally included in my cookbook as Tishpishti, which means quickly cooked cake in Turkish. I like to describe it as a baklava cake because of the flavored syrup, nuts, and the way you serve it — sliced in the pan then slathered and dripping with citrus syrup.


For the Syrup
1 cup water
2/3 cup honey (or 1 cup sugar)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 strips lemon rind
3 strips orange rind
1 – 2 sticks cinnamon

For the batter
1.5 cups toasted walnuts coarsely chopped
Nonstick cooking spray
5 large eggs separated, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
1.5 cups almond flour
2 tsp cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, boil water, honey (or sugar), lemon juice, lemon rind, orange rind, and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to slightly thicken and reduce the liquid. Set the syrup aside to cool and continue to infuse while you make the cake.
Strain syrup once it’s cool.

Cake Batter
Prep/Preheat: Chop the toasted walnuts coarsely. A food processor can help but is not necessary. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-13- inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with a parchment liner, allowing an inch or two of overhang to help remove the cake from the pan, unless you plan to serve it directly from the pan.
Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until mixture is pale yellow.
Add the olive oil, orange juice, and orange zest, and continue beating for another minute on medium-high speed.
Add the walnuts, almond flour, and cinnamon and reduce the speed to low. Beat until just incorporated and transfer to a different bowl, and wash and dry the bowl of the stand mixer.
Using the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes.
Gently fold a cup of the whipped egg whites into the batter to loosen it up, making it easier to fold in the rest of the whites.
Now fold in the rest of the whites until evenly incorporated.

Bake and Serve
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. When done, the cake will take on color almost like a toasted piece of bread and a toothpick should come out clean.
Let the cake cool for about 5 minutes, then gently slice it into squares or diamonds. If you are not serving the cake directly from the pan, transfer it to a serving platter before pouring syrup. Pour ¾ to 1 cup syrup over the cake. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. You can store this cake in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Remember to bring your eggs to room temperature for this recipe.
Be sure to use superfine almond flour and not almond meal to make this honey almond cake.
If you plan to serve from the pan you bake it in, no need for the parchment.
It’s fun to decorate the top with the cinnamon stick(s) you used in the syrup and the orange and lemon rinds.
A dollop of whipped cream (regular or non-dairy) would be a lovely topper!

Sharon Gomperts and Rachel Emquies Sheff have been friends since high school. The Sephardic Spice Girls project has grown from their collaboration on events for the Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem. Follow them
on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food. 

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