Halloumi & Black Olive Cake
‘My Hellimli Zeytinli Kek (Halloumi & Black Olive Cake) has to be one of the most popular recipes on my blog and Instagram pages. My mum always makes her zeytinli (olive cake) separate to her hellimli (halloumi cake), but the combination of both the dry black olives and halloumi together, with the freshness of the coriander and the sweetness of the onions and dried mint is basically the best kind of double whammy, so I’ve merged my mum’s recipes into one epic cake. Is it a breakfast dish? Sure, why not, because when people ask me what to serve it with, my response is simply ‘a cup of tea’.
Extracted from Meliz’s Kitchen by Meliz Berg (Ebury Press, 2022). Photography by Meliz Berg and Dan Jones.
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
3 large eggs
250ml (9 fl oz) milk
200ml (7 fl oz) olive oil
400g (14 oz) self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
11⁄2 tsp sugar
165g (6 3⁄4 oz) pitted black olives
200g (7 oz) halloumi cheese
cut into 2 1⁄2-cm (1-inch) cubes
4 tbsp fresh finely chopped coriander
2 tbsp dried mint
1 heaped tsp sesame seeds
1 heaped tsp nigella seeds
25g (1 oz) halloumi cheese, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6.
Line a 23-cm (9-inch) springform cake tin with greaseproof paper and brush the paper with a little olive oil.
Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add three tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion to the pan, and immediately turn down the heat. Soften the onion for 12–15 minutes until beautifully translucent and lightly caramelised. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the onion to a plate to cool down.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the milk and oil and stir well. Sift in half of the flour and the baking powder, then add the salt and sugar and whisk everything together, before sifting in the rest of the flour and whisking until there are no visible lumps in the mixture. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently fold in the caramelised onion, olives, hellim cubes, coriander and dried mint until combined.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin, sprinkle over half of the sesame and nigella seeds, then the finely grated hellim, and finally, the rest of the seeds.
Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 40–50 minutes. After 40 minutes, insert a cocktail stick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s ready. If not, give it another few minutes.
Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then carefully remove the ring and base and allow to cool fully on a wire rack for an hour before serving in slices with a cup of Spiced Cypriot Tea.