Cake is arguably one of the most delicious things humans have ever made to eat, and its numerous varieties continue to astound every cake fan. For that reason, it is obvious that cake is more than deserving of its own little holiday. Sunday 26th November is National Cake Day.
The History of Cake Day
The history of cake dates back to ancient times, and the first cakes are thought to have been made in Ancient Greece and Egypt. These first cakes were rather heavy and flat and were eaten at the end of a meal with nuts and honey. Nowadays, this type of cake has evolved into baklava, a traditional Greek dessert and a must-try for any fan of sweet stickiness. In later years the ancient Romans also created their own version of this sweet treat, which was rather creamy and rich. However, like in many cultures around the world, this cake was often reserved for the gods and was offered to them at their temples as a sign of respect, love, and reverence. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century.
How to Celebrate Cake Day
Of course, the best way to celebrate Cake Day is by eating cake with family and friends. You can buy a number of different types of cakes to celebrate the event, or have fun making your own cakes to mark the occasion. There are many different kinds of cake to choose from.
Celebrating Cake Day the Turkish way
If you feel like trying something a bit different on Cake Day, why not try this recipe for Revani from Ozlem’s Turkish Table.
Revani; a deliciously moist, semolina cake in syrup
This recipe is from Ozlem’s Turkish Table with kind permission from Ozlem Warren.
My 9 year old son asked if we may bake anneanne’s (grandma’s) Revani semolina cake the other day and our heart was set. We don’t enjoy overly sweet desserts and this delicious, moist semolina sponge cake in lighter syrup has been a favorite with us. We love semolina’s grainy, nutty texture, the goodness from yoghurt and the refreshing lemony flavor in revani. I also used mild olive oil here and worked really well; lighter but still packed with a lot of flavor.
Revani has been a popular dessert with us Turks since the Ottoman Period; it is believed that the name Revani is given when the Ottomans conquered the city of Yerevan in today’s Armenia. Revani has many versions and been enjoyed in various cuisines especially in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, as well as in Turkey. I have seen the addition of rose water, orange flower water and orange zest to revani, all sounds delicious.
Make sure to prepare the syrup ahead of time and that it is completely cool before pouring over the semolina cake, otherwise the cake gets soggy. Traditionally it is baked in a baking dish but my 6 year old daughter also wanted to make a few Revani cupcakes and they turned up rather wonderful!:) If you would like to bake revani as cupcakes, make sure to grease each cupcake shell with olive oil and not to overfill. If you are using paper cupcake shells, I suggest you to have 2 paper shells stacked together to provide a firm base, so that the batter won’t spill.
In Turkey, we like to decorate Revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut. I hope you can give this delicious, moist revani a try, it makes any day special.
Serves 6 – 8
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes for the cake and 15 minutes for the syrup
165 gr/ 6oz / 1 cup fine grain semolina
200gr/7oz/1 cup (not too full) sugar
45ml/3 tbsp. plain flour
5ml/1 tsp. baking powder
225gr/8oz/1 cup plain (whole milk) yoghurt
3 medium eggs
60ml/ 4 tbsp. olive oil (regular or light)
10ml/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon and Juice of ½ lemon
For the syrup:
300gr/10.5oz/1 ½ cup sugar
375ml/12 fl. oz. / 1 ½ cup water
Juice of ½ lemon
Ground pistachio nuts and desiccated coconut to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4
First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan (at a medium heat). Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let the syrup simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered. Add the lemon juice, mix well and simmer for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool down while you make the semolina cake.
Grease a square or rectangular baking dish (mine was 20 cm x 27 cm – about 8”x 10”) with 2 tbsp. olive oil. First beat the eggs and the sugar in a large mixing bowl briskly for a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Then add the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, yoghurt, semolina, flour, the baking powder and beat well. Stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown. To check; insert a toothpick to the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, that means the cake is cooked. If not, bake for another 3-5 minutes.
Using a large spoon, drizzle the cooled syrup all over the semolina cake. Let the cake absorb the syrup and cool down. Once cool, cut the revani in square or diamond shapes; you can serve revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut over the top like we do in Turkey.
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