Ravani (Greek Semolina Cake)

Greek Semolina Cake or Ravani is a delicious sponge cake that is popular throughout Greece. This light, airy cake has hints of citrus flavour and is sweetened with a simple syrup.

Ravani or revani is a traditional Greek dessert that is consists of a delicate, airy sponge cake that is soaked in an aromatic simple syrup. This cake, which is made with semolina, is not difficult to make and although it does include several steps, they are simple to do.

I am excited to share this recipe with you because it is one of my all time favourite Greek desserts! It’s delicate, tender texture paired with the sweet, citrusy syrup is absolutely delightful.

Heavenly.

A slice of ravani cake topped with powdered sugar and pistachios.

As with most popular Greek recipes, there are some variations throughout Greece, including variations in toppings (I provide a few options in my recipe so you can choose your own favourite). Shredded coconut or crushed nuts are among the most popular ones you will see.

The recipe I am sharing with you is my mom’s recipe with a few tweaks I have made along the way. It is easily my favourite recipe! I have yet to find a lighter, more delicate version and that really comes down to the whipped egg whites in this recipe which make this cake cloud-like!

I’ve included step by step photos in the post to guide you along the way so you can be successful (though it really is easy to do).

Let’s get baking!

Ravani cake cut into square slices and topped with powdered sugar and pistachios.

Why you should make this recipe:

  • It’s delicious!!

  • The cake is incredibly light and airy (owing to whipped egg whites).

  • The recipe is easy to make, especially if you use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whip the egg whites.

  • This recipe uses simple ingredients.

  • This recipe is naturally dairy-free so you can share it with dairy-free friends! (just be sure to grease the baking dish with oil instead of butter).

  • This cake is delicious! (Yeah, I said it already but its worth saying again! It is one of my all time favourite desserts and that is saying something considering it doesn’t have chocolate in it.)
A slice of ravani cake on a white plate set on a grey marble countertop.

Ingredients in Ravani:

  • Flour: All purpose flour.

  • Semolina: Fine semolina flour produces the best texture.

  • Baking powder: For leavening.

  • Eggs: And lots of them! This recipe uses 8 eggs.

  • Sugar: We are making cake here… Only a little sugar is used in the cake itself but we more than make up for that in the simple syrup! Ha!

  • Vanilla extract: for added flavour

  • Orange: The zest of an orange is used in the cake. Some juice is also used to infuse flavour into the syrup as well.

Ingredients in the simple syrup:

  • Sugar

  • Water

  • Orange juice

  • Cinnamon stick

Note: For recipe quantities and full instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

How to make Ravani (Greek Semolina Cake)

While there are quite a few steps for making this cake and you will need a few bowls too, it really is an easy cake to make. Essentially, this cake comes down to 3 overall steps:

  1. Make the simple syrup.
  2. Make the cake.
  3. Combine and let it set.

I will break down each of these overall steps below, including pictures to help guide you.

1. Make the simple syrup:

In a small saucepan, add all of the ingredients for the syrup. Heat it over medium heat until the sugar completely dissolves, creating a simple syrup. Let it cool. Once cooled, remove the cinnamon stick.

Photo collage showing the steps for making syrup for ravani cake.

2. Make the cake:

1. Combine the dry ingredients: In a bowl, mix together the flour, semolina, and baking powder. Set aside.

2. Whip the egg whites: Separate the egg whites and yolks into 2 separate bowls. Starting with the egg whites, whip them until they form stiff peaks. [I use a stand mixer to make this step easier but a hand mixer will do the job. It typically takes about 5 minutes.]

3. Mix the wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar. Next mix in the orange zest and vanilla extract.

4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients: Slowly add the semolina mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix until they are combined.

5. Fold in the egg whites: Next, using a spatula, gently fold in the whipped egg whites. Be gentle while folding it in so that you do not deflate the egg whites.

Photo collage showing the steps for making the ravani cake batter.

6. Bake: Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Photo collage showing the preparation of ravani cake.

Combine and let it set:

1. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes and then poke some holes with a thin skewer (optional). While its still warm, use a ladle or large serving spoon to pour the syrup over the cake, ensuring you pour it evenly. [Note: the cake should be warm and the syrup should be cool.]

Photo collage showing how to add syrup to ravani cake.

2. Let the cake cool completely before slicing and serving. You can also add additional toppings, if desired.

Tips and variations for making the best ravani

  • Whip your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. You will know when the egg whites are whipped enough when you can swirl the whisk through and still see the swirls it makes. This will make the batter light and airy.

  • Don’t over mix: As with all baked goods, its important not to over mix your batter. This is especially true when you add the egg whites in to it. Gently fold them in to avoid deflating them.

  • Let the syrup cool: In order to avoid a soggy cake, its important to make the syrup first to allow it to have enough time to cool.

  • Substitute lemon for the orange: No oranges around? You can substitute lemon zest and lemon juice in place of the orange in this recipe.
Closeup of a slice of ravani cake on a white plate.

Toppings for Ravani

There are several traditional options for topping ravani and you can definitely choose whichever appeals to you most. Serving it plain is perfectly acceptable too. I personally like these toppings:

  • powdered sugar (make sure cake is completely cooled before adding otherwise it will melt into the cake).
  • crushed nuts (like roasted pistachio or almonds)
  • shredded coconut (a popular way to serve ravani)
  • cinnamon
  • whipped cream
  • a scoop of ice cream (especially good in the summer!)

Note: I used powdered sugar and crushed pistachios on my cake.

Storing ravani

Once cooled, its important to cover your cake with plastic food wrap to prevent it drying out. Another option is to slice the cake and then place those slices in an airtight container.

Ravani can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days but if you plan to enjoy it for longer than that, you can keep it in the fridge for about a week.

Ravani can also be frozen. To do this, wrap individual slices with plastic food wrap and then foil to ensure they are safe from freezer burn. Then transfer the wrapped slices to a freezer safe container or bag.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Kali orexi (bon appetit in Greek)!

-Cathy

A slice of ravani cake set on a table next to a pan of ravani.

You may also like:

Apple Cake (Greek Milopita)
Greek Olive Oil Cookies (Vegan) – Koulourakia Ladiou
Bougatsa
Recipe for Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)
Vasilopita (Greek New Years Cake)

A slice of ravani cake topped with powdered sugar and pistachios.

Ravani (Greek Semolina Cake)

Herbs and Flour
Greek Semolina Cake or Ravani is a delicious sponge cake that is popular throughout Greece. This light, airy cake has hints of citrus flavour and is sweetened with a simple syrup.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cooling Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Servings 16
Calories 171 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 8 large eggs separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 orange zested

Optional topping ideas:

  • powdered sugar
  • crushed toasted nuts (e.g. pistachio or almond)
  • shredded coconut

Instructions
 

Make the syrup:

  • In a small saucepan, add all of the ingredients for the syrup. Heat it over medium heat until the sugar completely dissolves, creating a simple syrup. Let it cool. Once cooled, remove the cinnamon stick.

Make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9×13 baking pan (or similar- I used a 11×11 pan) with butter.
  • In a bowl, mix together the flour, semolina, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • Separate the egg whites and yolks into 2 separate bowls. Starting with the egg whites, whip them until they form stiff peaks. [I use a stand mixer to make this step easier but a hand mixer will do the job. It typically takes about 5 minutes.]
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar.
  • Next mix in the orange zest and vanilla extract.
  • Slowly add the semolina mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix until they are combined.
  • Next, using a spatula, gently fold in the whipped egg whites. Be gentle while folding it in so that you do not deflate the egg whites.
  • Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes and then poke some holes with a thin skewer (optional). While its still warm, use a ladle or large serving spoon to pour the syrup over the cake, ensuring you pour it evenly. [Note: the cake should be warm and the syrup should be cool.]
  • Let the cake cool completely before slicing and serving. You can also add additional toppings such as shredded coconut, powdered sugar, or nuts, if desired.

Notes

This recipe makes a 9×13 cake or similar. I used a 11×11 inch square pan.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 117mgPotassium: 66mgFiber: 1gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 155IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 1mg
Keyword greek dessert, greek food, semolina, sponge cake
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