Golden Holiday Spiced Revani (Greek Semolina Cake)

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on December 23, 2013

Holiday Spiced Greek Revani, www.goodfoodgourmet.comWhen I speak to people about Greek desserts, the ones most people are familiar with are desserts like baklava, karidopita, galatobureko and kourabiethes. An equally delicious but lesser known Greek dessert is something called Revani (pronounced as written, re-va-ni)– I have also seen this spelled ravani. On the rare occasion that I find it at a Greek festival or a Greek bakery in Baltimore, I always pick up a few slices to bring home. You very rarely find it served in Greek restaurants, and I never really understood why. It’s a great option for people who may not like desserts with nuts, like baklava.
You can bake this in either a square or round pan but the most important thing to remember is that it should not be very high. The reason for this is that the cake is soaked with a light, flavorful syrup and if the cake is too high, only the bottom of the cake will be moist with syrup and the top will remain without. This time around I chose to bake the cake in 2- 9” round pans because my square pans were full of baked brownies for the holidays.

This is a great little cake to enjoy year round and is very popular in the summer. Because the cake remains in the refrigerator, it is cool and refreshing to serve with some sliced fresh fruit in the summer. During the holidays, you can incorporate many of the seasonal flavors and spices into the syrup and even compliment it with a little cognac, brandy or even Grand Marnier.

It slices beautifully and makes a great plated dessert if you choose to serve it with ice cream or your choice of a delicious anglais or chocolate sauce. It’s one of those simple cakes that does not require any type of frosting or special handling and is a home baker’s dream because it is served right out of the baking pan.

Greek Revani
6 eggs, separated
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup refined olive oil (or vegetable oil)
zest of 2 oranges (traditionally use lemon but using orange here)
2 cups fine semolina
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Soaking Syrup
2 ½ cups water
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup honey (added last)
4 whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Juice of 2 oranges
½ -1 cup cognac, brandy or Grand Marnier (add to taste, I used Grand Marnier)

First make the syrup by putting all of the ingredients into a small pot, except the orange juice, honey and Grand Marnier. Bring the syrup to a rolling boil and let it cook on moderate heat for 10 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, stir, remove from the heat and allow it to cool. In the meantime, prepare the cake batter. First separate the eggs and place the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer and the yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to the eggs and begin whipping them until they become very frothy and begin to turn white. Slowly add ½ cup sugar and allow the egg whites to whip until they are completely fluffy, then slowly add another ½ cup of sugar and beat for a few more minutes until glossy. Add the other ¼ cup sugar in with the yolks along with the milk, oil and orange zest. Whisk everything well together. Then, sift together all of the dry ingredients and whisk into the egg yolk mixture until no lumps appear. At this point, add in half of the beaten whites and whisk in quickly until the batter becomes fluffier, then fold in the rest and combine until no more whites appear in the batter.

Revani batter

Revani batter, fold in the egg whites until the batter is lightened

Pour this into a pan sprayed 12” square baking pan or 2 sprayed 9” round baking pans and bake at 325°F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Greek revani cake

Allow the cake to cool completely before pouring on the syrup. When you are ready to pour over the syrup, warm the syrup on the stove and then pour half of the syrup over the cake(s) and allow it to be absorbed completely, then pour on the rest and allow the cake to absorb as much as it can. I let the cake sit at room temperature for about an hour and then I cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. If there is extra syrup leftover in the pan, don’t worry. Spoon over some of the extra syrup on each slice and enjoy. The cake slices beautifully and will last covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Once you have had the pleasure of tasting this treat, you will be looking for reasons to make it again and again.

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