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Recipe Development: Zohar Cake

This beautiful dish sits somewhere between cake and dessert, and draws together a host of ingredients and flavours brought over from Egypt by the Jewish diaspora. In this version the fruit compote calls for rhubarb, but Chef Tomer encourages you to experiment with whatever tart seasonal fruit you can get your hands on. As the name suggests, the real star of this dish is the Zohar water, or orange blossom extract. While many of us may not be too familiar with this ingredient, those who call Tel Aviv home will recognise it immediately as the aroma of spring, once the orange tree lined streets burst into bloom.

Development Stages

Key Components:

The Cake - made with semolina as the predominant dry ingredient, this cake has a loose sandy texture. However, it remains moist due to the high hydration level of the batter, and also because once baked, the cake is then soaked with orange blossom syrup, allowing the flavour to saturate the crumb entirely. This makes the Zohar cake, delicate yet flavourful - with every bite giving you a burst of bright flavour. Additionally, to add a floral note to the dish Tomer bakes crushed lavender into the batter, elevating the whole cake with a subtle aroma.

Fruit Compote - Tomer uses seasonal rhubarb as a sharp, tangy accompaniment to the aromatic Zohar cake. Either spooned over the baked dessert, or served on the side, this simple compote is made of stewed down rhubarb stalks and sugar, with a squeeze of lemon to finish. However, even though this recipe calls for rhubarb, Tomer encourages you to use any sour fruit that is seasonal to you, and lists a few helpful suggestions in the video.


  1. Semolina as a dry ingredient - learn how to bake with alternatives to flour, understanding their hydration levels and how they will affect the final texture of the dish.
  2. Tray Baking - understand how oven baking in a tray will result in a different rise, level of browning and crumb structure.
  3. Stewing fruit - learn how to use the natural pectin  in fruit to create a partially set sauce, as well as balancing the acid level with sugar.

Make It Your Own:

  • Compote - As Tomer mentions in the video, feel free to experiment with a variety of different fruits with this recipe. Stone fruit such as plums, apricots or damsens would all work very well as they will hold their shape and provide a good level of acidity to balance out the sweetness of the cake. However if you want to be more adventurous and you find them in season, why not try kiwi or persimmon?
  • Cake - The consistency of this cake is one of the most important aspects of the recipe, however if you are looking for a gluten free alternative ground almonds would work fantastically as they also provide a crumbly texture that absorbs the Zohar syrup. Additionally the recipe is vegan friendly and calls for oatmilk as the liquid component of the batter - but any milk or milk alternative could work as well.
  • Zohar Water alternatives - while orange blossom is the star ingredient of the cake, any flavoured syrup would work well. If you wanted to keep the flavours middle eastern, why not replace the Zohar water with rose water, and swap out the lavender blossom for dried rose petals. Other variations you'll find across the Arab world use saffron, coconut, cardamom, pistachio or candied fruits to add flavour to this sweet sponge.
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I prefer rustic, hearty, authentic heritage food and have stepped away from the over-plated more towards food with emotion and history.