My 9 year old son asked if we may bake anneanne’s (grandma’s) Revani semolina cake the other day and our heart was set. We don’t enjoy overly sweet desserts and this delicious, moist semolina sponge cake in lighter syrup has been a favorite with us. We love semolina’s grainy, nutty texture, the goodness from yoghurt and the refreshing lemony flavor in revani. I also used mild olive oil here and worked really well; lighter but still packed with a lot of flavor.
Revani has been a popular dessert with us Turks since the Ottoman Period; it is believed that the name Revani is given when the Ottomans conquered the city of Yerevan in today’s Armenia. Revani has many versions and been enjoyed in various cuisines especially in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, as well as in Turkey. I have seen the addition of rose water, orange flower water and orange zest to revani, all sounds delicious.
Make sure to prepare the syrup ahead of time and that it is completely cool before pouring over the semolina cake, otherwise the cake gets soggy. Traditionally it is baked in a baking dish but my 6 year old daughter also wanted to make a few Revani cupcakes and they turned up rather wonderful!:) If you would like to bake revani as cupcakes, make sure to grease each cupcake shell with olive oil and not to overfill. If you are using paper cupcake shells, I suggest you to have 2 paper shells stacked together to provide a firm base, so that the batter won’t spill.
In Turkey, we like to decorate Revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut. I hope you can give this delicious, moist revani a try, it makes any day special.
My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, is a special tribute to my roots, going back to Antakya. I hoped to showcase delicious, authentic regional recipes, especially from southern Turkey and Antakya, including this fragrant, delicious Revani. More than a cookery book, it has personal stories from my homeland, along with beautiful photography; Signed copies are available to order at this link, if you’d like to copy.
Serves 6 – 8
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes for the cake and 15 minutes for the syrup
165 gr/ 6oz / 1 cup fine grain semolina
200gr/7oz/1 cup (not too full) sugar
45ml/3 tbsp. plain flour
5ml/1 tsp. baking powder
225gr/8oz/1 cup plain (whole milk) yoghurt
3 medium eggs
60ml/ 4 tbsp. olive oil (regular or light)
10ml/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon and Juice of ½ lemon
For the syrup:
300gr/10.5oz/1 ½ cup sugar
375ml/12 fl. oz. / 1 ½ cup water
Juice of ½ lemon
Ground pistachio nuts and desiccated coconut to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4
First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan (at a medium heat). Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let the syrup simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered. Add the lemon juice, mix well and simmer for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool down while you make the semolina cake.
Grease a square or rectangular baking dish (mine was 20 cm x 27 cm – about 8”x 10”) with 2 tbsp. olive oil. First beat the eggs and the sugar in a large mixing bowl briskly for a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Then add the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, yoghurt, semolina, flour, the baking powder and beat well. Stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown. To check; insert a toothpick to the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, that means the cake is cooked. If not, bake for another 3-5 minutes.
Using a large spoon, drizzle the cooled syrup all over the semolina cake. Let the cake absorb the syrup and cool down. Once cool, cut the revani in square or diamond shapes; you can serve revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut over the top like we do in Turkey.
Revani gets even better the next day and keeps well, covered, for a good few days. In Turkey, we enjoy revani with Turkish coffee or Cay, Turkish tea by the side.
Dunyanin Turk Sefleri, “Turkish Chefs of the World” TV program coming up at TRT Turk – with a little part from Ozlem’s Turkish Table 🙂
I was delighted to have a small yet delightful part at the Culinary TV program being shot for the Turkish TRT Turk channel, in London’s Covent Garden last weekend. TRT Turk is the Cultural – News channel of Turkey’s national TV channel, TRT, aired over 70 countries. The name of the program is Dunyanin Turk Sefleri, “Turkish Chefs of the World”, being shot in many European cities like in Vienna, Hamburg, London as well as in Japan, and more series will include shots in New York too. During the program, Milliyet Daily food writer Mr. Sureyya Uzmez aims to explore the world cuisines and the presence of Turkish cuisine within those countries. They kindly included an interview with me too at London’s Covent Garden about Turkish cuisine. We talked about the rise of natural, healthy eating globally how the Turkish cuisine fits the bill well with the emphasis on seasonality, fresh produce and artful use of spices. I also mentioned the growing interest for Turkish cuisine, thanks to you wonderful readers, and your enthusiasm to even tackle Turkish landmarks like Turkish Delight, Lokum, Simit – the sesame encrusted bread rings – , Gozleme; Anatolian stuffed flat breads and more. The program is scheduled to go on air later October – exciting times, stay tuned!:)