Greek Semolina Cake with Orange Syrup

During a pre-Christmas visit, my SIL mentioned a syrup soaked cake that my mother had made years ago. She had discussed the dish with a work colleague who was curious about the dish but didn’t have a lot of recipe details to share with her. Since it had been a long time since I’d tasted the dessert myself, I was vague on details, but I thought it contained semolina. My nephew, however, thought it was finely ground cornmeal. His memory has been proven to be better than mine, in the past, but I thought I was right this time.

My mom never wrote down any of her recipes and I had, over the years, done some web searches for dishes that I remembered having eaten and liked. I was pretty sure I had saved something similar on one of those searches so I checked my hard drive, before I went web surfing again.

I ran across a recipe for a Greek semolina cake, with orange syrup, from “The Spruce” website, called “revani/ravani” which I thought I’d give a try. A similar dish, with Arabic/Algerian origins, is known as “basbousa”.

Since I was only cooking for one, I decided to scale down the recipe, designed to be baked in a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, and baked it in an 8 by 8 inch disposable aluminum baking pan.

Greek Semolina Cake with Orange Syrup – served with a spoonful of sweetened whipping cream

Just before folding the beaten egg whites into the rest of the batter.

Ready to bake

The baked cake after soaking in the syrup.

Cut and decorated with sliced almonds. It turned out well, though I decided to get creative in my cutting, and ended up touching the top of the cake, while it was soaking in the syrup, with my flexible cutting board which I was using as a guide. It took the top layer off the cake … so the result wasn’t as pretty as I hoped. And my cutting design was disappointing.

Conclusion: An easy to make cake, tasty and moist. The texture isn’t as ‘grainy’ as I remember my mom’s being. Maybe she used a coarser semolina grind, #2 not the finely ground #1, that the recipe called for.

If making this cake again, I’d cut it into 2 inch squares and not scale down the soaking syrup, since there wasn’t enough to get to the center of the cake.


18 thoughts on “Greek Semolina Cake with Orange Syrup

  1. This is not an easy cake to make! Well done! I wonder if this is the same as Sugee cake we have here and is widely baked by the Eurasians – they are the best in making this cake! Yummy share! 🙂

  2. I am fairly certain you and I have discussed an orange soaked cake in the past, my dear Mom used to make one too, except her’s was more of a pound cake rather than a cornmeal cake. This one looks very tasty and I just love the orange syrup soaked cake.

    1. I’m not sure about an earlier discussion but this cake is similar to a pound cake. Baking it in a large baking pan makes it thin enough that the syrup should have soaked the entire thing. I can’t remember if my mom cut it first and poured over the syrup so that it ended up almost dripping wet with the syrup. It took a while. I estimate that it took this one 5 min or so to absorb all the syrup which makes me think that it needed MORE syrup.

    1. It wasn’t overly sweet in spite of the syrup and I actually enjoyed the scoop of whipped cream on the side as a way of adding a bit more sweetness.

  3. Maybe she did use cornmeal – I don’t think it used to be very easy to get semolina, and that might be why it was grainer. But less grainy has to bet better, right. Anyway, it looks like the perfect winter recipe to bring a little sunshine into your life!

    1. The orange zest/peel in the syrup is a nice summery touch.

      I’m going to try to make a cornmeal/polenta version one of these days especially as I keep seeing orange polenta cakes being posted. They’re often gluten free with cornmeal and ground almonds to replace the flour and olive oil in place of butter.

      1. I did do a polenta cake with orange once, and it had syrup and orange slices on the top that turned into kind of a candied orange as it baked. I didn’t post it because even tho the orange slices were very thin, they dragged off the cake and it was impossible to slice….I remember the cake was good but could have used more syrup!

      2. I’ve had a similar cutting problem with a pina colada cheesecake I made with grilled pineapple on top. Syrup was something I could have used more of in this cake too. I reduced the cake to 2/3 so I did the same with the syrup … I should have used the whole syrup recipe. 🙂

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