I personally am not a huge fan of all the Greek syrup sweets, most of the time they are just too sweet. Having said that though, I do like the occasional syrup cake. The two most popular are Ravani and Karydopita (walnut cake). Ravani, that you see here, is a simple semolina cake lightly infused with either lemon or orange zest. Two versions I have grown to love are a coconut Ravani or a cinnamon one, like below!
There are also many variations of this recipe. Some use butter or oil and some do not, this one does not. It has a light yet grainy texture from the semolina, but this is very necessary because no one wants a soggy cake. In Greece, there are two different sizes of semolina: fine and thick. In my opinion, the best Ravani comes from using a combination of both. If you only have one size to choose from, just combine the amounts of each semolina and use that.
Ravani Syrup Cake Recipe: Printable Recipe1 cup fine semolina 2/3 cup thick semolina 1 cup self-rising flour* 1 to 1 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup milk 5 eggs, separated 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. or pkg. vanilla Preheat your oven to 180°/350° and butter well a large cake pan. In a larger bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar on high until you get a pale, light yellow color, 6-10 minutes depending on your mixer. stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and all the semolina. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites to a soft peak, adding the salt at the end. Slowly add 1/3 of the dry mix to your large bowl and mix until incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and mix again. Repeat with the dry mix and milk and end with the dry mix. Lastly, fold the whites into your main bowl; it is important to fold as this helps to lighten the mixture. Evenly pour into the pan and bake approximately 45-60 minutes or until toothpick removes clean.
*Make your own self-rising flour if you need: 1 cup all purpose + 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder + 1/2 tsp. saltWhile the cake is cooking, make your simple syrup: 3 cups sugar 3 cups water 5 T. butter 1 lemon or 1/2 orange, juiced 2 cinnamon sticks Bring to a high boil and let cook for 5 minutes, reduce heat to a simmer for another 5-8 minutes or until thickens. Once the cake is done and somewhat cool, slowly pour your syrup over the cake and let come to room temperature.
Traditional recipes even call for a cup of ground almonds. I have yet to try this addition but hope to in the near future. And although cinnamon is my number one favorite ingredient, I think that the coconut Ravani is truly my favorite. I will try to post that recipe in the future, but if you just can’t wait then try this cake recipe, omit the cinnamon and add coconut flakes to the top.
I remember eating my mother-in-laws Ravani cake and being surprised that I liked this syrup cake, but I have a distinct memory of the first time I tried coconut Ravani. Before we got married, my in laws took V and I on a small road trip. We visited Ouranoupoli, the town just above the third peninsula of Halkidiki, and ate a feast in one of the local restaurants. For dessert they served us coconut ravani with vanilla ice cream and it was all that I could do not to take the plate and run away so I could eat the whole thing myself. We haven’t made it back there, but the recreation at home was almost as memorable. Guess I should have made this recipe today with coconut since I am just raving about it, but since we are leaving the island in 4 days we are just about out of all of our typically “stocked” ingredients, like shredded coconut.
On another great note, V’s computer is working great!!! You won’t believe how we fixed it either. There were some blue lines on his monitor and it was also distorting the picture and software, he searched and searched for a simple solution but it looked like we were going to have to buy a new graphic card. He did find a crazy website swearing that if you baked your graphic card in the oven for a few minutes, that it would simple melt and fuse back together anything that had become worn over time. We thought, why not try it before heading to the store to buy a new one. Well, turns out that we didn’t need to go to the store after all – IT ACTUALLY WORKED!!! Crazy, eh. He promises it actually works better now than it has in months! Guess we hit the jackpot with that one
Kali Orexi and enjoy this wonderful cake with some family or friends this holiday season!