This Turkish Middle Eastern semolina cake dessert gets its flavor from fresh lemon juice and zest. Revani (Basbousa, Sambali) is an easy sponge cake that bakes up quickly and absorbs a delightful lemony sugar syrup. Make your Turkish delight fancy with a star pattern and almond slivers.
How to make Revani
Revani is made in four basic steps and bakes up in only 35 minutes. It is a very easy cake to make and perfect for the beginner baker.
First mix cake ingredients in a bowl and pour into pan. Let rest for one hour. Next cut a pattern into cake, decorate with almonds. Then bake in oven. Pour syrup over cake.
Serve with optional creme fraiche or whipped cream.
Revani syrup flavors
The syrup that flavors the revani varies. The most common flavors are lemon, orange and rose.
This recipe calls for the zest and juice of one lemon but you can make an orange flavored cake by using the zest and juice of an orange or use orange water. Rose water is a common pantry item in Middle Eastern pantrys and can be used in this recipe instead of lemon or oranges. I think making a vanilla cake with some saffron would be amazing.
If you make this cake, let us know which variation you made and how you liked it by leaving a comment below.
You don’t have to use almonds, you can use other nuts instead like pine nuts, peanuts and walnuts.
I have never seen berries used but I think a strawberry or blueberry slurry would be wonderful. You would have to replace the milk with it. That might take some experimenting. If you choose to do this, I would make a traditional cake first so that you can get a feel for how thick the batter should be then you can adjust when you make a berry version.
I made a Blueberry and Lemon Revani and it was delicious. The blueberries made pretty speckles in the cake and I paired it with the lemon flavors. Think of this cake as a Summer Revani.
I also made an apple pie version of Revani, somebody needs to stop me. The Apple and Cinnamon Revani uses traditional apple pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. The syrup is made from apple juice, sugar and fresh ginger. This western version is just as easy as the original Revani. If you make your own version, share in the comments below and let us know what you did.
Other names for Revani
Probably due to regional migration, traditional recipes spread throughout the Middle East but may be known by other names. Revani is no exception.
Below are the other names for Revani or at least names of cakes that are very similar. If you have any insight to this, please leave a comment below so that we all may learn. Thanks in advance!
- Basbousa – Arabic
- Shamali – Armenian
- Revani Tarifi – Persian, Greek, Turkish
- Nammoura – Lebanese
- Pastusha – Kuwait
- Sambali – Turkish
Basically, the Middle East loves semolina cake soaked in flavored sugar syrup. So if you are traveling and you see something like this, rest assured it’s going to be good no matter what they are calling it.
How to Make Revani Step-by-Step
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This Turkish Middle Eastern semolina cake dessert gets its flavor from fresh lemon juice and zest. An easy sponge cake that bakes up quickly and absorbs a delightful lemony sugar syrup. Make your Turkish delight fancy with a star pattern and almond slivers.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups semolina flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- zest of one lemon
- cooking spray
- About 1/2 cup almonds
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 2 cups of water
- juice of one lemon
- OPTIONAL GARNISH
- creme fraiche or whipped cream.
- Pre-heat oven to 400F.
- In a large bowl, mix the first five ingredients. Pour into a greased 25-30cm baking pan. A large pie pan or a springform pan work well. Let sit for one hour for semolina to soak in the liquid.
- While cake is soaking, bring water and sugar to a simmer, let simmer for five minutes, turn off heat. When cool, add lemon juice.
- After one hour, cut semolina cake into your pattern of choice. Place blanched, peeled almonds in a decorative pattern. You can use either whole almonds or slivers.
- Bake cake for about 35 minutes until golden colored.
- Remove from oven, re-cut your pattern so the syrup soaks up the syrup. Pour syrup over entire cake.
- Wait at least one hour to serve or over night.
- Serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream if desired.
- The syrup can be made into other flavors such as orange, rose water or vanilla. Just add zest and juice of an orange instead of a lemon, or rose water or vanilla.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 202
- Sugar: 31 g
- Sodium: 41 mg
- Fat: 2 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 45 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Cholesterol: 2 g