Greek Semolina Cake With Orange Syrup (Revani)

Greek revani cake with orange syrup

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Cool Time: 90 mins
Total: 2 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 15 to 20 servings
Yield: 15 to 20 slices
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
208 Calories
6g Fat
37g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 15 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 208
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 98mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 26g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 66mg 5%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 55mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Revani (reh -vah-NEE) (also spelled ravani) is a Greek cake known for its citrus flavors and use of semolina flour. The sponge cake is made with lemon zest and is sweetened with a simple syrup flavored with orange zest. The cake is not difficult to make and is a delightful addition to any sweet table.

Semolina is durum wheat that is more coarsely ground than regular wheat flour, and it's commonly used in pasta dough and gnocchi. Consequently, it can produce a cake with a coarser texture than what you might be accustomed to. This recipe uses a combination of fine semolina (which isn't hard to find) and all-purpose flour. But this semonlina cake's flavor combination, as well as the citrus syrup, results in a delicious and moist dessert. You will want to make sure the syrup cools completely before spooning it over the warm sponge cake; otherwise, the cake will become soggy.

As revani is popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean countries, you will find slightly different versions depending on the recipe's origin, such as the Turkish semolina cake in syrup that offers a subtle twist on this simple recipe. 

"This cake has a few steps—beating and folding in egg whites, and making a simple syrup—but it is really quite easy to make. I did top it with the optional powdered sugar, cinnamon, and chopped toasted almonds. The cake was delicious—it was moist from the syrup and had an excellent texture from the semolina." —Diana Rattray

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For the Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup fine semolina

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs, separated

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 pinch salt

For the Syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 2 (3-inch) strips orange zest

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Optional Toppings:

  • Powdered sugar

  • Ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted chopped blanched almonds

Steps to Make It

Make the Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for revani cake
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch pan and set aside.

    Grease pan
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Mix the flour, semolina, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

    Mix flour
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks one by one. Continue mixing until the batter turns light yellow. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

    Cream butter and sugar
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with the milk.

    Mix batter
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Clean the beaters well and beat the egg whites in a separate bowl with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.

    Beat egg whites
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Don't mix too much, or you will "flatten" your egg whites.

    Fold eggs
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  8. Pour the batter into the pan, level with a spatula, and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is a nice golden color.

    Baked revani cake
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Make the Syrup

  1. Add the water, sugar, and orange zest to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cool.

    Water, sugar, orange zest, and lemon juice for revani cake syrup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. While the cake is still warm, cover it with the syrup. When the cake cools, you can sprinkle with some powdered sugar, cinnamon, and almonds, if using.

    Revani cake with orange syrup and almonds; cut into squares
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Recipe Variations

  • Add a 3-inch cinnamon stick to the syrup mixture along with the orange zest strips.
  • Replace 1/2 cup of sugar in the syrup mixture with 1/2 cup of honey.
  • Instead of toasted almonds, sprinkle the revani with toasted coconut or pistachios.
  • Bake the cake in two (9-inch) cake pans and freeze one for later.

How to Store Revani

  • This cake will keep for three to four days, thanks to the addition of the syrup, which adds moisture. Keep it covered in an airtight container. Alternatively store the cake in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • You can also freeze this semolina cake. Wrap the pieces individually in plastic wrap, cover with foil, and store in a zip-close freezer bag for up to three months.

What Is the Difference Between Semolina Flour and Regular Flour?

Both types of flour are made from wheat, but semolina is more coarse than all-purpose flour and has an earthier aroma. Semolina offers a heartier texture and is often thought of as the pasta wheat because it helps the pasta keep its shape more easily, thanks to its high gluten content. At about 13 percent, its protein content is higher than that of all-purpose flour, which typically clocks in around 10 to 11 percent, depending on the brand of all-purpose flour you buy.

How Long Do You Beat Egg Whites for Soft Peaks?

It will take about a minute or slightly less to get to the soft peak stage. When you lift your beaters or whisk, the egg whites will have a soft tip that curls and flops over.

Is Orange Zest the Same as Orange Peel?

The peel of the orange is the whole outer peel, including the bitter white pith. The zest is the thin, brightly colored outer layer of the peel.