Milk Recipe: Turkish Revani (Yogurt-Semolina Cake With Lemon Syrup)


In Greece and Turkey, revani is the general name for a family of cakes made (usually) with durum-wheat semolina or a semolina-flour mixture, which are soaked after baking in some kind of syrup.

When taken from the oven they are heavy, coarse-textured, and a little gritty from the hard, stubborn semolina. But the syrup bath moistens and flavors the cake without making it disintegrate as a fine-textured European cake would. Yogurt is a frequent ingredient, with or without some other source of fat like butter or olive oil. The acid will slightly tenderize the crumb.

Fresh YogurtThis simple lemon-flavored version comes with little change from Ozcan Ozan’s splendid book The Sultan’s Kitchen, a must for any fan of Turkish food. It uses only drained yogurt with no other fat except the egg yolks, so it’s crucial to start with the richest, creamiest yogurt you can make or buy. Be sure to buy semolina fine enough for cakes, not the coarser kind for puddings.

Allow at least 4 hours after baking for the cake to soak up the syrup. It is traditionally served with kaymak, the Turkish version of clotted cream, often sold in Turkish groceries. English clotted cream and plain whipped cream are reasonable substitutes. Any of them will be an excellent foil to the intense sweetness of the lemon syrup. A tiny serving goes a long way. Yields one 8-inch square cake (16 small servings). 


For the syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 scant tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 

For the cake:

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