This post first appeared on Great British Chefs website. Which has been revamped and looks all very sexy and shiny and new, you should check it out.
Most traditional recipes, like this Greek semolina cake (or Revani as it is also known), are all open to interpretation, tweaks and additions and this recipe is no different. And whilst I wish I could say that I learnt to make this under the guidance of a scary Yiayia, all clad in black, I got the lowdown for this wonderfully moreish cake from another maternal figure. Namely the very reliable Delia Smith. But then again, she didn’t quite get it right the first time around because my first attempt way back when, fractured under the pressure when I tried to lift it out of the tin and I was largely left with crumbs. This could be down to my own cack-handed ineptitude of course but being the stubborn, pig headed type, I am hardly going to foot the blame. So after further cracks at the whip, I’ve made a couple of changes by adding a smidgen of bread crumb and soupçon of oil to the mix, just to stabilise things. There be might frowns, certainly; but let me reassure you, the grainy texture and lightness of this cake, imbued with sweet honey and citrus, is by no way affected by their introduction. Yes, I am talking to you, my imaginary Greek grandmother. As for Delia, I am sure she won’t be too bothered.
(He says, flinching)
1 large unwaxed orange
50g slightly stale white breadcrumbs
175g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
3 tsp baking powder
175ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
For the honey and orange syrup
200mls of honey
Juice of 1 unwaxed orange
1 cinnamon stick
For the yoghurt and pistachio topping
200mls Greek yoghurt
50gms pistachios, chopped
Honey, for drizzling
First, preheat the oven to 200C. Then line the bottom of a 24cm loose-base round tin with greaseproof paper, then grease the tin. Mix together the semolina and bread crumbs in a bowl with the sugar, almonds and baking powder. Cut the orange into small pieces, removing any pips and then put the pieces into a blender and blitz to a pulp. Whisk the oil with the eggs in another bowl and then pour into the dry ingredients and then mix well. Fold in the orange pulp and then pour the mixture into the tin and place in the oven. After 10 minutes turn the heat down to 180C for another 40-45 minutes.
Check with a skewer by inserting it into the middle, if it comes out clean it’s done. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate.
Meanwhile, whilst the cake is baking, make the spiced honey and orange syrup. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring until the honey has completely dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat. Leave the cinnamon stick and cloves in to infuse for 30 minutes and then lift them out the syrup.
While the cake is still warm, pierce it several times with a skewer, then spoon the syrup over the cake allowing it to run into the holes. If any excess syrup over the cake starts to seep out from around the cake, simply scoop up with a spoon and pour over again until everything is soaked up and leave to cool completely.
When ready to serve, lightly whip the yoghurt to loosen and then smooth all over the top of the cake with a palatte knife. Drizzle with honey and then finish with a scattering of the chopped pistachio.