Tulumba is a traditional Turkish pastry, common to the peoples of the former Ottoman Empire.
In Egyptian cuisines and some Arabic cuisines, they are called balah ash-sham, and in Iraqi cuisine, they are known as datli.
Tulumba is eaten cold and is traditionally served for Hanukkah and other special occasions by Turkish, Israeli and Persian Jews.
How to make tulumba
The tulumba recipe is a choux pastry type recipe. It consists of cooking a mixture of water, sugar, salt, and margarine or butter in a non-stick saucepan, incorporating all-purpose flour and stirring until obtaining a thick dough.
Then remove the dough from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Once it is at room temperature, it is necessary to incorporate durum wheat semolina, cornstarch, and especially the eggs one by one.
It is important that the tulumba swell during cooking, and that they are empty inside. In order to accomplish this, the use of a stand mixer with a flat beater is strongly recommended for the stage of incorporating the eggs. It will create air bubbles which will make the tulumba more airy and therefore swollen.
While most choux pastry recipes call for adding eggs one at a time, it is just to ensure that the dough is worked long enough to incorporate enough air.
The pastry bag is the essential utensil of this recipe. It must have a star tip, about ½ inch (1 cm) in diameter.
Just like a classic choux pastry, the tulumba batter, once ready, can not be stored. It should be cooked immediately.
For the baking stage, the water contained in the dough turns into steam causing the dough to swell, while egg albumin coagulates to form an impermeable outer layer, which increases swelling.
In order to obtain crispy tulumba, it is imperative not to preheat the oil. The tulumba should be immersed in a large amount of oil at room temperature and the heat should not be started until the tulumba have been cut.
The tulumba swell during cooking, so it is important to space them out in the pan, which must be very large.
The very first step in this recipe is to prepare a syrup in which the tulumba will be dipped.
To prepare a sugar syrup, generally use the same quantity of both water and sugar. But it is still possible to use a little more or a little less sugar depending on the desired taste and sweetness.
It is necessary to bring the mixture to 210 F (100°C) maximum, otherwise it would crystallize and turn into caramel. In the absence of a thermometer, after boiling, wait until the syrup is transparent before removing it from the heat.
The rule to follow to soak a cake:
- Soak a warm cake in cold syrup
- Soak a cold cake in hot syrup
Sugar syrup keeps very well, up to 45 days in a sterilized, airtight glass jar.
What is the origin of choux pastry?
Like tulumba, many donut recipes around the world have the first three operations identical to that of choux pastry, but only the last step, that of cooking, is replaced by frying and not baking.
The recipe for choux pastry seems to have its origins in the Renaissance at the court of Florence, then was exported to France in the middle of the 16th century by the chefs of Catherine de Medici who married the future king of France, Henri II from Valois. The authorship of this singular preparation was attributed to the pastry chef of the Medici, Penterelli, and perfected by his successor Popelini.
It was towards the end of the 18th century that this preparation took the name of “choux pastry” (pâte à choux), after having been perfected by Jean Avice, pastry chef from Talleyrand, and Antonin Carême, known as “the king of chefs and the chef of kings ”.
It is indeed interesting that Antonin Carême was the first to bear this title of “chef”. An early practitioner and eminent representative of the French concept of haute cuisine, he is considered to be the founder of this grand style, sought after by both the royal courts and the new wealthy in Paris. He was one of the first cooks to gain international fame.
From churros to tulumba
The most likely origin of tulumba would be the iconic churros of Spanish cuisine.
Indeed, these churros, which are served hot in the morning in Spain, could be at the origin of tulumba.
Sephardic (Spanish) Jews, who escaped the Inquisition in 1492, introduced their food customs to Ottoman lands, customs which were accepted and adopted.
Since many Sephardim settled in the Balkans in Thessaloniki, Thrace, Çanakkale, Izmir, the relationship between the tulumba and the churros is evident in history.
Another dessert, whose manufacturing stages are similar, are the buñuelos of Spanish Jews.
Turkish pastries and desserts
Turkey is a country with a thousand faces located in an extraordinary position, straddling Europe and Asia, which in addition to incredible historical and architectural wonders, testimony to an ancient and glorious past, offers a varied and tasty gastronomy, which is the result of the meeting of different cultures and influences.
The country offers a set of flavors and always fresh ingredients, which are at the base of a unique culinary evolution and among the most appreciated in the world.
At the crossroads of 3 continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, the Turkish gastronomic tradition turns out to be an astonishing mixture of flavors and different tastes from which come unique culinary options: sweet creations, available in many regional varieties, where the products offered are delicate desserts composed of very thin layers of crispy phyllo dough, enriched with dried fruit and flavored with spices, cinnamon in particular.
Turkish pastries accompany every important moment in life, are part of the rituals and attentions that are addressed to important guests and are full of symbolism, often religious.
In Turkey, sweet dishes are given a positive value, they are considered to bring energy, well-being and good health.
At the time of the Ottomans, desserts, especially baklava, were part of the payment, which was due to the chosen guard of the sovereign, the Janissaries, who also fed them to draw energy and strengthen their concentration.
The Janissaries formed a very powerful military order made up of slaves of European origin and of Christian faith, constituting the elite of the infantry of the Ottoman army at the height of the Empire.
In the long list of Turkish sweets, the raw ingredients are very important, and their choice is fundamental to the success of a recipe.
Turkish delight is a gelatinous, diced dessert that is made with cornstarch, sugar, dried fruits and spices, and flavored with floral waters.
The Turkish delights have had famous admirers. Indeed, it seems that Napoleon was literally dependent on it and had boxes of Turkish delights sent to him. Also, Pablo Picasso appreciated them to the point of being inspired by them for some of his works.
Baklava, on the other hand, is perhaps the best known from afar even outside Turkish borders.
Baklava is prepared for banquets, large family and religious celebrations and it is the ultimate gift handed out by the groom to pay homage to the future bride. Turks say there is nothing better than a dessert like baklava to start a love affair.
Another fairly well-known Turkish dessert is helvasi, more commonly known as halva. It is a sweet dessert made with flour, semolina, butter, sugar, milk and cream, which can take different forms, more or less large.
The halva is also the dessert which symbolizes well-being. It is offered on various occasions such as birth rites, circumcision of a child, on departure and return from military service, before leaving for the ritual pilgrimage. It is also the sweet that is offered at funerals.
A truly special dessert, with millennial roots – and closely linked to the most ancient Turkish history, that of Anatolian civilizations – is Noah’s pudding or aşure, a dessert associated with the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is based on legumes, wheat, water, rice, apricot and various other fruits.
The sütlaç, otherwise known as sutlijaš or sutlijash in Macedonia, is a rice pudding sweetened with cinnamon, typical of the Balkans and Turkey. An unexpected Turkish dessert, because now universal and widespread in many cultures of rice, butter, rose water (or milk) and cinnamon.
There is a Turkish dessert similar to tulumba called kalburabastı (sometimes spelled kalbura bastı) or kalburabasma. It is also known as hurmašice or hurme in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and sometimes also known as hurma. These are pastries in syrup that also have ridges. They are among the favorite specialties prepared during Muslim holidays.
Its dough is made of flour, sugar, yogurt, butter, olive oil, eggs, nuts and baking powder, while water, sugar and lemon juice are used for the syrup.
Turkey is home to a great culinary tradition which is best expressed perhaps at the end of the meal. Turkish pastries are famous all over the world and deserve their popularity: kanafeh, basbousa, halawet el jibn, or lokma are all delicious age-old desserts that contribute to the Turkish culinary wealth.
Even today, through its very old world famous desserts, Turkey continues its unstoppable conquest of palates of all latitudes.
Tulumba is a traditional Turkish dessert made with thick fried choux pastry sticks which are dipped in sugar syrup.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
- 6 tablespoons butter , cut into pieces
- 1½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 eggs
- 3 tablespoons extra fine semolina
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Peanut oil
- 1½ cup water
- 1¾ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a saucepan, bring the mixed water and sugar to a boil.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Boil for 10 to 15 minutes over low to medium heat or until you get a thick, syrupy texture.
- Remove from the heat and let cool during the preparation of the tulumba.
- In a non-stick saucepan, pour the water and add the butter and salt.
- Bring to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once.
- Mix well with a wooden spoon until you get a shiny, thick, and smooth consistency.
- Put the pan back on low heat and dry the mixture by mixing with a spatula for 4 to 5 minutes to obtain thick and dry dough.
- Remove the dough from the pan, place it in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to cool before incorporating the eggs.
- Using the blender (K), stir in the cornstarch, semolina and eggs one at a time. Wait until each egg is well incorporated to add the next one.
- Work the dough well in order to incorporate air and until it becomes a pipeable dough.
- Pour a large amount of oil into a very large skillet.
- Fill a piping bag with a fairly wide star tip.
- Shape sausages about 1½ inch (4 cm) long.
- Cut them off with scissors and immerse them in the oil at room temperature.
- Heat the pan over medium heat.
- As the oil heats up, the pastries will gradually rise to the surface and swell.
- Slightly increase the heat and turn them from time to time for even, golden brown cooking.
- Remove the tulumba and place them to drain for one minute in a colander.
- Then immediately soak them in the cooled syrup.