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Kalo prama is a Greek (more typically Cypriot) dessert. It is a sweet, somewhat dense cake that is steeped in a slightly citrusy syrup. The unique taste of kalo prama comes from several factors:

  • The flour used in the cake is semolina, giving the cake a somewhat grainy, toothsome texture.
  • The primary wet ingredient in the cake is yogurt.
  • The cake is baked first and then drenched in a syrup made with orange juice.

The name "kalo prama" means, in Greek, "good thing," which, in my estimation, is quite an accurate assessment.


Kalo Prama

I got this recipe from my dad; I don't know where it's originally from. I have altered it a little, adding more orange juice and being more precise about some of the measurements.

Ingredients:

Cake:

Syrup:

Notes:

  • 3 cups of semolina is just about one vacuum-sealed 1-lb package of semolina that one might find at the grocery store. You can essentially just use one package of this without measuring.
  • Orange flower water is available at your friendly neighborhood Middle Eastern grocery.
  • To blanch the almonds: bring some water to a rapid boil in a small saucepan. Place the almonds in the boiling water for one minute. Drain the saucepan into a strainer and run cold water over the almonds. Let the almonds drain thoroughly before using.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large work bowl, mix semolina and oil until well-combined. The oil should be as evenly distributed throughout the flour as possible.
  3. Add 1 cup sugar, yogurt, orange flower water, vanilla, cinnamon, and baking powder. Mix well until a cohesive dough is formed.
  4. Press the dough into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Make sure the dough is pressed well into the corners of the pan and that the dough has a consistent thickness.
  5. Sprinkle the blanched almonds evenly across the top of the cake.
  6. Place cake in oven for 40 minutes or until light golden brown on top.
  7. Remove pan from oven and set aside to cool.
  8. While cake is cooling, in a small saucepan combine water, 1 cup sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a boil and boil gently until slightly syrupy and about 1 cup in volume, about 10 minutes. You should skim any orange foam that rises to the top of the syrup during the boiling.
  9. Cut cake into squares while still in pan (see note) and pour the syrup over the cake. It may seem as though there is too much liquid (it should just flow over the cake) but in a few minutes it will soak into the cake.
  10. Allow to cool completely before serving.

A note regarding cake cutting:

While normally one might cut, for example, brownies in the pan in neat little squares, like so:

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...kalo prama is traditionally cut in a diagonal pattern, like so:

+-------+
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|/\/\/\/|
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|/\/\/\/|
+-------+

The diamond pattern is a nice touch, and adds a lot to the visual presentation of the dish, which is usually served straight from the pan.

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