Greek Semolina Cake with Orange Syrup (Revani)

It has been raining steadily all morning, so I've decided today is the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and bake.  As I'm feeling a little nostalgic, I've decided to make a Greek semolina cake with orange syrup (also known as Revani) using my grandmother's recipe.  It fills me with pride to continue the tradition of baking this sweet for my own family.  When I'm cooking, I often like to think my grandmother is watching over me in the kitchen.  She was a wonderful cook, and I hope that in some small way I have taken after her.

250g unsalted butted, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs
2 cups fine Semolina
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Zest of 1 orange
Blanched almonds (for decoration)

2 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 180C.

Grease a large shallow baking dish with butter and set aside.

Using an electric mixer or food processor, cream the butter & sugar together until smooth and white.

Add eggs, one at a time, & whisk each one in until well combined before adding another one.

Add the vanilla bean paste and orange zest and continue to whisk until combined.

Add the semolina slowly, and whisk until it is completely mixed in.

Add the flour, and only whisk until just combined (do not over process it).

Pour the mixture into the baking dish, spread it out evenly and smooth the surface using a spatula.

Using a sharp knife, gently score the surface of the cake into diamond shapes, taking care not to cut through.  You are only doing this as a guide so you know where to place your almonds.

Gently place a blanched almond into the centre of each diamond, taking care not to press it in (let each one just sit on top of the mixture).

Place your cake into the oven and cook for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is nicely coloured and a knife comes out clean.

Once you have placed your cake in the oven to bake, start your orange syrup straight away.

In a small saucepan, add the sugar and water, cinnamon stick, lemon juice and orange blossom water.

Place the saucepan on a hotplate and set it over a moderate heat, and do not stir it.  Allow the sugar to completely dissolve and the mixture come to a boil.  Turn the heat down a little and continue to cook until the liquid turns clear.

Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately and allow to cool while the cake continues to bake.

Once the cake is ready, remove it from the oven.  You will notice that the diamond scoring has almost disappeared.  Using a sharp knife, cut your cake into the diamonds that were scored earlier.  Using a ladle, spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cake immediately.

Allow to cool before serving.


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