Make Ahead

Revani, Syrup Soaked Semolina Cake

November 12, 2013
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes 9 squares
Author Notes

Revani as called in Turkey and Greece (I believe) is a delicious semolina based cake that is soaked with a sugar syrup. A variant of it is also eaten in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries (under the name of Basbousa and Harissa). I found this recipe in, adapted from Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook. But my version is further adapted by me as I only had ½ cup all purpose flour while the recipe called for 2/3 cup, so I ended up using my ½ cup of flour plus 1 tbsp cornstarch to replace the missing 2 or so tbsp of flour. I also added some lime zest (or you can choose lemon or orange zest) to the cake. The cake was surprisingly of a light texture and moist, and not too sweet despite the sugar syrup. You can serve it as is or sprinkled with ground pistachios, and/or grated coconut, and/or whipped/clotted cream. Some recipes for the syrup also replace the water with rose water; some others may add a stick of cinnamon to the syrup. You could even, if you love rum cakes and Baba au rum like me, add a few tbsp of rum to the syrup. D) I would say the possibilities are endless; and in less than 1 ½ to 2 hours or so, this dessert can go from the mixer to the oven to the table. Enjoy! —Regine

What You'll Need
  • Syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp sugar
  • Juice of a lemon, lime or 1/2 an orange
  • Optional - a few strips of lemon, lime or orange peel
  • Cake
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour plus 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder ( yes all that, equivalent to 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated zest of a lemon, lime, or orange
  1. Syrup
  2. Grease an 8" x 8" square cake pan. Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Combine all syrup ingredients, bring to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes and take off heat and set aside. Note that this syrup is more on the thin side due to the water/sugar ratio of 2:1 rather than 1:1. I thought to decrease the water from 2 to 1 1/2 cups to make the syrup thicker; but I think this would make the cake more sweet than what it needs to be.
  1. Cake
  2. In a bowl mix together the semolina, flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and set aside. Using a hand or stand alone mixer, mix until well combined the sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, zest and eggs. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Pour into greased 8x8 square cake pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. It took me 25 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for ½ hour to 1 hour, then cut into 9 squares, and slowly pour the syrup into the cake. You can serve immediately or wait until the following day, as many think it is best the day after. You can serve as is or with a dusting of ground pistachios, and/or grated coconut flakes, and/or whipped/clotted cream.
  3. NOTE: Semolina is the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings, and couscous. The one I used was given by my mother and found in the Latin American section of a supermarket. But you can also find it (I think ) either in the pasta or baking section.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hilary Millroy
    Hilary Millroy
  • Aura Blithe
    Aura Blithe
  • Regine
  • Sarah

10 Reviews

Sarah April 25, 2023
Hi There,
I've made this recipe before and it was delicious 😋 I just can't remember if the cups are US cups ?
Regine April 25, 2023
Hi Sarah. Yes, recipe is based on US cup measurements. 😀
Sarah April 26, 2023
Great, thank very much. 😊
Hilary M. March 28, 2021
So easy to make.
I seldom bake but this is a amazingly simple and delicious.
Regine March 28, 2021
Hillary, happy you liked it. I have not made it in a while but your comment reminds me to make it again soon. 😎
Aura B. October 20, 2020
Ravani is originally a traditional Greek sweet and the recipe is quite different from the one you have (probably a Turkish adaptation). You can search for the Greek recipe of Ravani given by the chef Akis Petretzikis and you won't be disappointed, I can tell you because I visited Greece this summer and tasted it for the first time there (yummi!) and his recipe is spot on! Best wishes!
Ingmar August 29, 2020
Made this per the recipe and am disappointed, as there is a bitterness that I’m pretty sure is due to too much baking powder. The recipe even reinforces how much making powder to use, but on checking elsewhere on the web, other recipes use half as much. I’ll be reverting to those ratios next time.
Regine August 29, 2020
Hello Ingmar, I am sorry about that but I find surprising cake was a failure for you as I made it myself a few times without any bitterness. I also checked onlind and see that similar recipes also have a relatively high amount of baking powder like the recipe in Spruceeats and TasteAtlas. This being said though, it has been a while since I made this cake so I am intrigued. I will thus make it soon again and let you know how it comes out. Thanks.
Ingmar August 29, 2020
Thank you so much for your reply. It’s very much appreciated. On further investigation I think I’ve pinpointed the problem: I used baking soda rather than baking powder. Rookie error! Baking soda doesn’t have the offsetting acid to counteract the bitter taste of the soda (which is basic).
That said, the other recipes do use half the amount of baking powder vs flour+semolina compared to this one (1 tbs baking powder to 1 cup flour & 1 cup semolina vs your 1/2 cup). While probably not an issue in itself, I would have exacerbated my error with the increased ratio.
Ingmar August 30, 2020
Ok, on my second attempt I corrected my error and used baking powder instead of baking soda. It is SO much better, and is quite delicious. Next time I might opt for a more syrup, as the cake tends to mop it up, but it’s already really lovely.