You may have noticed that Greeks love syrup. We’ll take a perfectly delicious walnut cake, a delightful phyllo and custard dessert or a simply yummy pear shaped cookie and make them better with syrup. Sticky, and now even more perfectly delicious, syrup soaked cakes are a particular favourite around here (and by here we mean our family, not the internet…although, we’re working on it!).
Revani is a traditional syrup cake with variations galore! There are versions made in several countries like Turkey and Egypt, all going by different names. In Greek, this dessert is called revani (ρεβανί) or ravani (ραβανί). Name aside, within Greek families there are also differences in the recipe; some bakers flavour their syrup with rose water, others with orange juice, some with lemon. There are differences in the proportion of semolina to flour used, and there seems to be a heated debate over the inclusion of coconut, with some people arguing that coconuts do not grow in Greece, so using them in revani is wrong. Well, it may be wrong, but frankly…it’s delicious. Be a rebel, use the coconut!
We like to use clementines in this recipe; the zest for the cake batter and the juice in the syrup comes from clementines, which tend to be sweeter and juicier than oranges. Although you can use oranges instead, we really do recommend that you use clementines; the flavour is absolutely wonderful.
We used a reduced fat yogourt in this recipe however you can use any yogourt you like, so long as it is plain and unflavoured.
We know how tempting it is to peak in on your cake while it is baking, but try to avoid doing so, especially during the first 30 minutes of the cooking time. Opening the door to your oven and releasing the heat will potentially cause your cake to sink a bit (or a lot!) in the middle. That would be a shame, especially since this cake is incredibly fluffy, unlike some of the denser versions of revani that you may come across.
You will notice that our recipe for revani is similar to the one for pantespani. For both desserts, you need to prepare your syrup in advance so that cooled syrup is poured over the hot cake. You will beat your eggs separately in order to fold in egg whites which you have beaten to a soft peak, and you’ll even cut your cake in a similar fashion. However, despite the fact that they end up looking similar, revani and pantespani are quite different in their flavour and texture.
We like to adorn each piece of our revani with a maraschino cherry, because that is what our family does. In fact, when one of our aunts (actually, a koumbara) makes revani during Christmas time she uses both red and green maraschino cherries to decorate her cake. If you don’t like maraschino cherries, you can certainly use something else to make your revani pretty; shredded coconut is a lovely option. You can also decide to keep your cake plain; with a flavour so delicious you really don’t need to dress it up.
Mia Kouppa: Revani with coconut
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon grated zest of one clementine (or orange)
- 1 cup plain yogourt
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fine semolina
- 1 cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Vegetable oil for greasing bottom of pan For the syrup:
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- juice of one clementine (or 1/2 an orange)
- To decorate: 10 – 12 maraschino cherries (optional)
- Prepare your syrup by combining the water, sugar and clementine juice in a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using vegetable oil, lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan.
- In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, semolina, shredded coconut, baking soda and baking powder until well combined. Set aside.
- In another bowl combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar and beat well until soft peaks form. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks with the sugar and beat until a pale yellow colour (2 to 3 minutes). Next add the clementine zest and the vegetable oil and beat until well combined. Add the yogourt and the contents of the bowl with the semolina and coconut. Beat using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer until well combined.
- Next, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites. Continue to fold in the whites until they are well combined within the rest of the batter.
- Pour the batter into your greased cake pan and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, being careful not to open the oven door too much during the baking process.
- When your cake is ready (a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean), remove it from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, using a sharp knife, cut your cake into serving size pieces; it is traditional to cut your cake into diamonds as shown.
- Pour the cooled syrup slowly over your still warm cake. All of the syrup should be absorbed by your cake. Be sure to pour the syrup around the edges as well.
- If desired, decorate each piece with a maraschino cherry. When your cake has cooled, serve and enjoy.