Terebinth Berries – The New Coffee?

So a trip to our local Kurdish shop has yielded several delights, the first being goat meat, the second being chicken and the third is an ingredient completely new to me – Terebinth berries. This tiny cross between a coffee bean and a peppercorn that smells like pistachio coffee when you roast it is something quite special.

Having seen it – we had to try it. Frantic searching on the internet to discover what to do with them yielded only one recipe and a hand full of discussions. It was clear it was a localised thing in Turkey, Kurdistan etc and there are I’m sure a plethora of people without internet access and possibly the ability to write who could share a number of recipes for these delicious little berries.

I’ll be honest and say I’m still not 100% sure what I think they taste like because it depends on whether they are roasted or not. If one roasts them you get a coffee/pistachio aroma and in their ‘straight out of the packet’ state they smell quite berry like.

So the challenge was to create a cake which included the terebinth berries, this was a challenge I was happy to accept but I had reservations, my creativity had taken a backseat for a few weeks meaning inspiration was having to work twice as hard to create something. Taking inspiration from the coffee I knew that making an espresso shot of infused liquor was where I needed to start, I reduced it down again with some honey having infused boiling water until it had gone cold. It smelt of roasted pistachios – the one hiccup was not skinning them properly – I think it would have made a much cleaner flavour.

I already decided I wanted to make a vanilla sponge, even before the terebinth berries were bought and I am glad I stuck to it, the vanilla sponge had just the right amount of vanilla as to not be overpowering, I am very pleased with how it turned out, I hope it inspires you to try terebinth berries, the coffee sounds amazing and its caffeine free so why not give it a try?

Serving Size:
Prep: 30mins (plus infusion time)
Cook: 30mins
Cool: 1hr


  • Vanilla Cake
  • 312.5 g all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 354.88 g granulated sugar
  • 170.25 g neutral flavoured oil – I use rapeseed
  • 339 g non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk, not from a can)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • Terebinth Buttercream
  • 400g Icing Sugar
  • 200g Plant Based Butter Or Non Waterbased Margarine
  • 1tbsp terebinth berry syrup (see note)


  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and grease two 8 inch cake pans. I also like to place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan for easy removal.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, cornflour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk well to combine.
  3. To the bowl with the dry ingredients, pour in the oil, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and coconut extract. Mix with a large spoon until just combined, but be careful not to over mix the batter or your cake won’t be soft and fluffy.
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them and place on a cooling rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  6. For the buttercream: whisk your butter until soft before adding 1/3 of the icing sugar and the berry syrup. Mix in bursts until all the icing has been used, you can do this by hand or in a stand mixer!
  7. Ice the bottom layer first and place on your presentation plate.
  8. Add the top layer and a dollop of buttercream on top and smooth it over with a palette knife.
  9. Next add more buttercream to the top and keep working it until the sides are covered.
  10. Place in the fridge until required.

I made my berry syrup using 2 tbsp roasted berries (medium heat frying pan with the lid on, let them cool before grinding them as much as you can) with 2 to 3 tbsp boiling water and leave to sit for an hour or so. Strain and transfer to a saucepan on the hob with a touch of honey or liquid sweetener and reduce again so the syrup is quite thick.

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