Greek Semolina Cake (Revani)

Updated 13th March 2024

Revani as we call this sweet semolina cake in Greek is basically a yellow sponge cake that gets steeped in a delicious citrusy simple syrup. The sponge is fairly light with a nice crumb and when soaked with the syrup it becomes a delight to eat. It’s a simple cake with bright flavors, a wonderful texture and a totally irresistible dessert. Enjoy it plain with a dusting of powdered sugar or sprinkled with sliced almonds or chopped pistachios. Enjoy it with a coffee or tea and for an extra special sweet treat with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Greek Semolina Cake

Why you will love this Revani recipe:

  • It’s so Easy to make
  • It uses only simple Basic pantry ingredients
  • It’s so Delicious and if you are looking for something new this is a unique dessert to try
  • It’s the perfect balance of light and syrupy not overly dense or too dry

What is Revani?

As I mentioned above it is a semolina flour based cake that is baked then soaked in syrup. That is sort of over simplifying but basically what revani is. There are so many variations of this cake out there depending on the country, region or home it’s made in. I discuss many of them below. This is a basic version - my favorite staple recipe that has never failed me once - and the closest version to my moms recipe (which I can never get right due to her measuring with her heart and eyes) but also a version that is so easy to make and I know you will enjoy. Ok Let’s get to the nitty-gritty: Who made it first? Gotcha! - I’m not gonna even touch that but know that revani or ravani or basbousa is a recipe that is enjoyed by several cultures/ countries: Greece, Turkey (Turkish cuisine), Egypt. If you have not tried this recipe before I strongly recommend it!

Greek Semolina Cake Ingredients

Revani Ingredients

For the Cake

  • UNSALTED BUTTER: Make sure it’s room temperature so it’s easy to mix with the sugar
  • SUGAR: Granulated sugar is used and there is a good amount of it - it’s dessert and a syrupy dessert at that so it’s expected - feel free to reduce amount in the cake by a 1/3 maximum without effecting the overall taste and texture
  • EGGS: You will need 3 eggs room temperature and separated
  • VANILLA EXTRACT: I always recommend Pure vanilla extract. Sometimes this cake is flavoured with a touch of rose water or orange blossom water - your choice
  • MILK: I used full fat or whole milk for best flavor but any milk will work
  • BAKING POWDER: It helps give this cake it’s lift and very important that they are still active and not expired so definitely check your boxes
  • ALL PURPOSE FLOUR: I have not tried this recipe with a 1-1 gluten free flour and don’t know how it will hold up with the syrup. If you do try it I recommend using less syrup.
  • SALT: Just a pinch is all you need
  • LEMON ZEST: Freshly grated lemon zest is always best

For the Syrup

  • WATER: the base of the syrup
  • SUGAR: granulated sugar is what I use
  • ORANGE PEEL/ZEST: to flavor the syrup, if you prefer to make this cake with lemon only feel free to substitute the orange peel with lemon peel
  • CINNAMON STICK: for flavouring the syrup
  • LEMON JUICE: for flavor and to balance the sweetness

Greek Semolina Cake Steps pt1

Greek Semolina Cake Steps pt2

How to Make Revani

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time followed by the vanilla and lemon zest
  4. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated
  5. Beat egg whites with pinch of salt until soft peaks
  6. Fold egg whites into batter
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan then bake until golden
  8. Make syrup while cake bakes then set aside to cool
  9. Once cake is out of the oven, slice it and gently and slowly ladle the syrup all over cake - allow to sit at least 30 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle with sliced almonds or choice of topping and serve!

Greek Semolina Cake Slicing

Tips for making the best Revani

  • Make sure eggs are room temperature
  • Make sure butter is softened
  • Make sure that baking powder is active and not expired.
  • Whip egg whites and fold gently so they don’t deflate in the batter
  • Measure ingredients carefully
  • How do I know when the cake is done? I just use a cake tester or tooth pick. When it comes out clean you know it’s done. The cake is usually also done when it’s springy and edges are golden and you see the sides of the cake just start to pull away from the pan.

How To Store or Freeze Revani

  • STORAGE: This cake will keep covered in and airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature, thanks to the syrup, which adds moisture. Alternatively store the cake in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • FREEZING: You can also freeze this semolina cake. Wrap tight and freeze for 2-3 months. The flavours may be the same but the texture may be slightly different when frozen. Wrap the pieces individually in plastic wrap, cover with foil, and store in a zip-close freezer bag for up to three months.

Greek Semolina Cake

My aunt always use to make this cake and I loved her version of it along with my moms version which was probably the same recipe. I remember my aunts a little more because she would make it quite often. I clearly remember sitting at her table enjoying a small diamond cut slice in a flower shaped cut glass plate enjoying and savouring every bite. The other memories attached to this cake all include dining at one of our favourite spots in Greek town Toronto and being served a complimentary slice of this yummy cake after each meal. Watching them bring it out after what was usually a huge meal, I thought how could I possible stomach that, but nibble after nibble it was always demolished even on a full stomach.

Greek Semolina Cake

Revani Variations

There are so many versions out there for this humble cake infused with citrus syrup. Many versions include a little rose water or orange blossom water - for extra flavor. If you do decide to add a splash make sure it is a very small amount - treat it as an extract otherwise the flavors will over power the cake. Many versions add cinnamon and even cardamom and mastic in the batter but I like to keep it simple and let the citrus shine. Other versions add a few more eggs but I go by my mom’s recipe as I have found that I like the texture of hers. I also always fear that the Revani will taste too eggy and so I err on the side of caution when it comes to adding more eggs. You really don’t need to add more eggs. Some versions are made with olive oil or vegetable oil but I like the texture and flavor of revani with butter. Same goes with the milk - many versions use greek yogurt or plain yogurt for the dairy component but I have always used milk. Other versions are coconut based - with shredded coconut in the batter and toasted coconut as a topping or even almond flour in the batter. all of them are quite delicious and I will get the coconut one on the blog one day but my standard go to revani recipe is this one - it is very simple to make, basic pantry ingredients (other then the semolina - but most Greek pantries have it) and it turns out perfect every time. Some prefer to double the syrup amount for a much denser syrupy cake. This cake has just the right amount of syrup - adding moisture but not much.

Revani Cake

Of all the variations out there - there is one thing that usually stays the same and that is the use of semolina flour in it. It gives it its unique flavour and texture and totally wouldn’t be the same without it. Of the many version I have tried, tested and made, this is the one that works for me. It’s a simple recipe. It never fails and it’s so delicious. My husband loves it and he couldn’t get enough when I made it- like piece after piece. If you are looking for a flavourful soaked cake similar to a poke cake with a bit of a Greek flare then this is what you are looking for. Enjoy!

More tasty Greek desserts you will love:


Servings: 15 large slices or 20 to 40 smaller servings
Yields: one 9x13 sheet cake or two 9 inch round cakes
Prep Time: 15-20 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt

For the simple syrup

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • Two 3-inch strips of orange zest/peel
  • 1-2 sticks of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For Topping

  • Dried rose petals for decoration along with raw or toasted almond slices, or pistachios, toasted coconut flakes or simply dust with powdered sugar


For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease 9 x 13 pan all over on the inside and set aside or line with parchment paper if planning to lift it onto a platter for serving. Either is fine.
  3. In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, semolina and baking powder, and set aside
  4. Using an electric mixer or standing mixer, in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 mins.
  5. With the mixer running, add egg yolks one by one mixing well after each addition. Continue mixing until the batter turns light yellow in colour, 1-2 mins
  6. Then mix in the vanilla extract, and lemon zest.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches alternating with the milk. Set aside batter.
  8. In a seperate medium size bowl with clean beaters or whisk attachment on, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
  9. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter with a spatula until just blended. Do not over mix or your egg whites will deflate.
  10. Pour the batter into the pan, level with a flexible spatula so that it is even then place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is a nice and golden and tested comes out clean.

For the Syrup

  1. While the cake is baking add the water, sugar, and orange zest to a saucepan and bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the lemon juice and set aside to cool.

Adding Syrup to Cake

  1. Immediately after you remove the cake from the oven slice it into diamond shaped pieces or into squares or rectangular pieces and immediately ladle the syrup gently onto the cake evenly. (alternatively pierce it gently all over with a knife edge or a fork or even a skewer then ladle over syrup to allow the cake to absorb the syrup fully.)
  2. Sprinkle with toasted almond flakes and dried rose petals (or any other topping you chose to use) and allow to cool completely before serving.
  3. Once cool serve pieces otherwise cover and keep at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the fridge for up to one week. Can be served room temperature or even cold. I like to cover and refrigerate mine for a few hours before serving to allow the syrup and flavours to fully penetrate but that is just personal preference.

Recipe Notes

  • Bake the cake in two (9-inch) cake pans and freeze one for later or keep one and gift the other! Baking time will vary slightly.
  • STORAGE: This cake will keep covered in and airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature, thanks to the syrup, which adds moisture. Alternatively store the cake in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • FREEZING: You can also freeze this semolina cake. Wrap tight and freeze for 2-3 months. The flavours may be the same but the texture may be slightly different when frozen. Wrap the pieces individually in plastic wrap, cover with foil, and store in a zip-close freezer bag for up to three months.

Slice of Revani on a plate