Revani Cupcakes (Semolina Sponge Cupcakes with Citrus Syrup and Coconut)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

From the Cupcake Archives because I am super crazy busy and/or trying to nap on my Spring Break.

Many years ago I went to Turkey as part of a life changing vacation through the Middle East. I went and saw the Blue Mosque, walked around the capitol city, enjoyed the local air and culture, and had some wonderful meals. One of the more striking desserts that always seemed to show up was a dish called revani. It was a new experience in cake. It was dense, heavy, and syrupy with a heavy citrus profile. It was a cake revelation.

Revani is a traditional sponge cake of Turkey and other countries like Morocco and Lebanon. Like any sponge cake the recipe is simple but getting truly amazing flavor takes patience and practice.

It's supposedly named after a famous Turkish poet who often extolled the beauty of food, but I can't seem to find any of his work on the Internet. If he supposedly did exist or if this is just a story, I'm not sure. Regardless it's a beautiful cake that really would inspire one to put down their soul into prose.

This is a cupcake with forgiving ingredients. I had no semolina so I substituted Cream of Wheat. Nor did I have dry dessicated coconut, so I used sweetened (I have yet to go grocery shopping after I moved, and the only thing nearby is Albertson's, I went with what I could get at the moment). Honestly, go with sweetened, it's just better and not as dry tasting. If you can get freshly grated, then go that route. I also used a tangelo for the zest rather than a basic orange, though the revani I had in Turkey used some very flavorful exotic orange that was incredibly floral and honey-esque, one I could not identify and I'm sure have little chance of finding.

You have to eat them with a fork, they're too sticky and syrupy to go by hand (we tried and it just gets everywhere, which is fine for outside but not in the living room I just finished cleaning). Very citrusy and very sweet, they're delicious little sponge cakes. We enjoyed them with a bit of yogurt for me and clotted cream for Rob as the dairies just helped accentuate the flavors. The coconut was light and added a nice floral finish. Overall a playful cupcake perfect for spring dinners outside on the patio and for Turkish themed meals.

Revani Cupcakes
Makes 9-12 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

What You'll Need...
1/2 cup of semolina or Cream of Wheat
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
6 eggs separated, room temperature
zest of one tangelo (or other orange)

What You'll Do...
1) Preheat the oven to 350. Sift the flour and semolina together in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the yolks and the sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the orange zest and then gradually beat in the semolina and flour mixture.

2) Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Remember to have them at room temperature and to start at a low whisking speed, then gradually get to higher speeds. You have to coax them into getting white and fluffy.

3) Fold the egg white mixture carefully into the semolina mixture. Spoon into paper cupcake papers (not foil!). Bake for 12-16 minute or until a toothpick comes out clean.

4) Spoon lemon syrup generously onto cupcake and bake for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool and absorb the syrup.

5) Transfer to a dish and serve at room temperature with clotted cream or yogurt and sprinkled coconut. Drizzle on any extra syrup you may have left over.

Lemon Syrup
What You'll Need...
juice and zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of water

What You'll Do...
Put all the ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.


  1. Yummy. Hey it's nearly your blog one year anniversary. What cupcake will you create to celebrate?

  2. Those cupcakes looks absolutely delicious. I can almost imagine the rich syrup leaving the cake dense and moist. hmm is it me or are all Turkish desserts on the SUPERSWEET-SYRUPYSWEET side? Loved Turkey though, it was fun!=)

  3. That looks delish! I'd love some with some cream too....


  4. Garrett, these are gorgeous! Such a brilliant, atypical cupcake -- thank you so much for this recipe.

  5. Minko - Holy crap you're right... Huh... I'll have to think about that...

    Victoria - Yeah they do seem to have that pattern. It's a RICH culture you might say (hyuk hyuk).

    Trupti - It's totally yummy, you should.

    LR - You're welcome, hope it works for you and you enjoy it!

  6. Oh this looks lovely, light, delicious and with coconut you can never go wrong. Your combinations are so interesting to read about. Another hit out of the park Garrett!

  7. man, you are crazy! ;) they do look great! I need to compare the recipe I have with yours but now I want to go home and make revani.

    you are one good cupcake man.

    btw, Greeks also make revani...

  8. Now these look good. Will whip up a batch to take along to our Freedom Day celebrations on the 28th April. Should go down a treat.

    Just on the off chance - would you know where to find a recipe for Bahamas Rum and Coconut cake?

  9. Cheryl - So glad you like it!

    Fethiye - I'm happy it gets the stamp of approval. Post your revani so I can see it!

    Rob - let me know how they go, as for the cake in question, is a great resource for mystery cakes you can't seem to find in a cookbook, plus they are tested and rated so you can have faith in the recipe you try.

  10. oooooof......I can practically taste its syrupy goodness...

  11. For someone who is gluten-free, do you think I could substitute cream of rice, or would that throw off the flavor?

    I love your blogs!

  12. Miss BLiss - I think you could easily do that, it may alter the flavor a tad, but nothing crucial. Most of the flavor comes from the syrup.

  13. One look at the name Revani and it brought to mind "Rava" the Indian name for Semolina...
    And there is a yummy sweet made from Rava in India, very similar to this one - its called, Sheera in the West, Kesari in the South, Suji Halwa in the North - a rose by any name etc!
    The semolina is roasted lightly in ghee, then cooked in milk or water, sugar added once the semolina is cooked, and topped off with cardamom powder, cashews and raisins.
    All in all, in about 15 minutes tops, you have a wonderfully satisfying dessert.
    No wonder it is offered as the food of the Gods!

    I will try this one - the eggs and the syrup should provide an interesting twist!



  14. Hi, I am Turkish and I cook this dessert very offen. I want you to remind you something for the syrup you wrote 2 lemon juice I think you wrote that accidently because it should be couple drops of lemon juice. If you put 2 lemon juice you can't eat it . I never try with coconut but I will thank you for the idea.
    Best Regards


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