Revani cake is a classic dessert you will find all over Greece, Turkey, Armenia and other Middle Eastern countries. This sweet, sticky cake is made with semolina flour and enriched with a thick sugar and citrus syrup glaze.
I first about revani cake years ago, though it wasn’t until recently that I finally decided to make it at home. While I was intimidated by the recipe at first, it was actually a lot easier to prepare than I thought. This recipe for revani cake is from Turkish Delights, a cookbook by John Gregory-Smith that celebrates the best Turkish traditional food.
The result is a dense yellow sponge cake with a nice crumb. The cake itself is quite light thanks to the combination of plain flour with semolina, which gives a crisp, crumbly texture. Semolina is a high-gluten durum wheat flour with a coarse texture and yellow colour, typically used to make pasta and couscous. It is often used in cakes in Greece, Turkey and Morocco.
Revani cake is more than just a crumbly and delicious semolina cake. To take this recipe to the next level, the sponge is soaked with a sweet syrup, infused with the juices of one orange and one lemon. The citrus (in the form of zest in the sponge and juice in the syrup) gives revani cake a nice bright flavour.
The combination of almond and citrus flavours of Revani cake reminds me of this gluten free Orange Scented Olive Oil Almond Cake . While this cake is made with ground almonds and rice flour, not semolina like in the revani, the result – a light and fluffy sponge cake – is somewhat similar.
After it’s glazed, the cake is topped with sliced blanched almonds or, if you like, you could sprinkle it with roasted almonds, ground pistachios and even dried fruits or grated coconut. Whichever topping you choose, this revani cake will be a delight to eat!
You will find different versions of this syrup-soaked semolina cake served both at home and in restaurants in Greece, Turkey, Egypt and other countries across north Africa and the Middle East. The best way to enjoy a piece of revani cake is with a glass of mint tea or a cup of strong black Turkish coffee.
Tasting this sweet, syrup-soaked, bite-sized Revani cake brought back memories of the Ghoriba cookies I first tasted in Morocco five years ago. Ghoriba are made with almonds or semolina flour and are flavoured with rose water or anise and honey. You can find the recipe for these Moroccan semolina cookies on my blog.
For the sponge
- 160g semolina flour
- 160g plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 120g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1/2 orange
For the sugar syrup
- 125g caster sugar
- 125ml cold water
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of 1 lemon
For the topping
- 2-3 tbsp blanched almonds, roughly sliced
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a rectangular traybake / brownie tin (ideally 34 x 20cm).
In a medium bowl, combine the semolina flour, plain flour and baking powder. Set aside.
Put the butter and sugar into a stand mixer with paddle attachment and blend to a light consistency. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and the vanilla extract and orange zest. Mix until you have a really light mixture. Add the dry ingredients you previously mixed and blend until you have a smooth cake mixture.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks using an electric whisk. Fold into the cake mixture.
Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake is light brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
To make the sugar syrup, put the sugar in a small saucepan with the cold water. Add the orange and lemon juices and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once bubbling, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until you have reached a sticky, syrupy texture.
Use a toothpick or skewer to poke lots of tiny holes across the top of the cake. Pour over half the syrup. Leave for 10 minutes, then sprinkle the cake with sliced almonds and pour over the remaining syrup. Cut the cake into squares or diamonds (cut vertically into strips, then diagonally, like you do for baklava).
Leave to set for about 30 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
If you love desserts with nuts, here are some of my favourite recipes to make: Carrot pistachio & coconut cake, gluten free Pistachio cookies, White chocolate caprese cake, Spiced granola with almonds and pecans, Mosaic cake with cashews and Marunchinos almond macaroons.