This recipe for Albanian Revani is an old fashioned cake recipe that is passed on generation to generation in my home country. Recipe is very simple and it is supposed to be made with everyday ingredients. Revani is a spongy cake that has soaked some delicious syrup for hours before being served.
Albanian Revani vs Greek or Turkish Revani
I grew up in Albania at a time where the country was closed off to neighboring countries. Only later on I did realize how many similarities there are in Mediterranean cuisines. Each country has their own spin but some base recipes are very similar.
Revani is supposed to be a simple cake, soaked in syrup and served in a diamond shape (usually). In Albania we did make the cake with flour and cornstarch or flour and cornmeal and the syrup is flavored with lemon juice, zest and vanilla.
Some people call it ravani but that’s a dialect I suppose, since the written and main form of pronouncing it’s Revani.
Greek and Turkish versions of revani have flour and semolina, they too are soaked in syrup. Some variations have coconut, some variations use orange in the syrup and even in the cake itself. I have seen plenty of garnishes from orange peels to pistachios, to coconut or simple powdered sugar.
Does Revani Have to Be Cut in Diamond Shape Only?
I am not sure why, but we love cutting our desserts in diamond shape. We do the same with baklava / bakllava. However, you can cut the cake any shape you want. You can cut it in cubes, slices etc.
I’ll say this. It’s a lot easier to cut proper diamond shapes if you’re using a round baking tray but on a rectangular dish it might take some practice to get the slices right, even and not too big. I didn’t do a great job this time around cutting revani, but it still tasted amazing so I felt I had to share anyway so you can have the recipe ready for the upcoming holidays.
A Simple Process & Ingredients
Start by getting all the ingredients together. It’ll make your job easier while you’re whisking and mixing. Plus having everything pre-measured, makes the recipe so much easier to follow.
- Separate the egg yolks from whites? – This is somewhat a personal preference. However, I believe that if you’re using a hand held mixer or a food processor, than you don’t need to separate the eggs. In the past, we used to whisk the eggs with a fork in a bowl, so it was a lot easier to whisk the whites separate from the yolks.
- Vegetable oil – traditionally we used vegetable oil. Feel free to use your favorite vegetable oil, if it’s odorless even better. I like to use avocado oil.
- Yogurt – most yogurts in the Balkan region are homemade and have a thinner consistency than the Greek yogurt, but a very similar taste. So since I live in US, I use Greek yogurt in my desserts but since it is thicker, I have to adjust appropriately to get the desired batter consistency.
- Baking time varies a bit on the type of dish you’re using and how much revani you’re making. It takes me about 37-40 minutes to bake mine. I can tell the revani is done using the toothpick trick (insert it in cake and make sure it comes out clean) but also looking at the color. You need the cake to have a beautiful color on top before it browns.
- Syrup – I keep both cake warm and syrup warm when adding the syrup over the cake. Apply the syrup slowly to allow for cake to absorb.
Serve a slice of revani for family celebrations. I enjoy a slice with coffee anytime I make the cake. While it is not so nutritious to have cake for breakfast, old habits die hard…I am guilty of having a small slice of revani for breakfast too:).
Usually the cake and syrup would keep at room temperature for a day or two, fully covered. Then I refrigerate but a tray this size doesn’t go past 2 days in my house so I rarely have to refrigerate. I never freeze revani so I can’t say how it will hold if frozen.
Flavoring the Syrup
It is customary to add lemon juice, lemon zest, a cinnamon stick and vanilla to syrup. So the cake for revani is very simple and flavor is added in via the syrup.
The recipe card written below, also reflects that just to keep with the history of the recipe.
The reasons this was done this way historically is that we used to use vanilla powder and limontoz (a powder substitute for lemon flavor and acidity). Since both were powders that dissolved in water, they were added in via the syrup.
To modernize revani, I feel that both vanilla extract and lemon zest plus lemon juice can very easily be added to cake batter instead. Please let me know if you decide to try adding them to batter:).
Albanian Revani Cake
- 2 cups flour
- 6 eggs
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 3 tbsps corn starch
- 1 cup avocado oil any vegetable oil works as long as it is odorless
- 1 cup yogurt I used Greek yogurt
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Mix the dry ingredients, flour, corn starch, baking powder and baking soda with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Add eggs to mixing bowl one by one. Use the handheld mixer to whisk the eggs until they become creamy and volume increases. Only then add sugar and continue mixing.
- Slowly add yogurt and mix then add avocado oil (or your favorite vegetable oil) and mix. Once they're all incorporated, start spooning over the dry mix little by little with one hand as you mix with the other. Once you have added all the dry mix, the batter should be ready. You can use a spatula to do the last mix and scrape the sides.
- Butter and flour the baking dish to prepare it for baking. Pre-heat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius).
- Pour batter over baking dish, flatten with the spatula to ensure even spreading then bake for about 40 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven, turn it off and let the revani cool down.
- Add sugar to a medium sauce pot. Heat water separately on an electric kettle. Add hot water over sugar and whisk to dissolve sugar.
- Add lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon stick and vanilla extract to syrup. Let cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Then turn heat off and let syrup cool off.
- Once both revani cake and syrup are warm, then pour syrup with a ladle over cake (revani is still in the same dish where it baked). I usually cut the cake after the first application of syrup. Then add the rest of the syrup slowly. See video for more detail on this point.
- Let the revani absorb the syrup for about 6 hours or overnight before serving it. Enjoy it on your favorite holidays!! Best Wishes:). Enjoy!! Gezuar!
- Baking tray – use a round or rectangular baking tray. Keep in mind volume of dish, if it’s too big, you need to make more cake batter otherwise the cake will be too thin.
- Baking dish I used has dimensions 11×8 inches.
- There are many personal preferences on the syrup, some people like it a lot sweeter than my syrup. So feel free to add more sugar when making syrup.
- Also, soaking the cake with syrup can be a science. I personally love the cake to be soaked and have absorbed a lot of syrup but I don’t want the cake to swim on syrup. However, some people like extra syrup with their cake so feel free to double the syrup recipe so you can have extra too.
- Lastly, in some European countries there are mixes of baking powder and baking soda sold in one small pouch. So if you have access to that, use 1 pouch for this cake instead of measuring separately baking powder and baking soda.
Revani is a cake that is common in countries like Albania, Greece and Turkey. There are variations with semolina and without. I for once grew up with this cake not having semolina.
Traditional revani might vary from region to region. Revani is a cake that is very simple, usually it has lemon or orange and very simple ingredients found in every kitchen. More modern versions have coconut and pistachios but old fashioned recipes tend to be simpler.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save the below image to your boards in Pinterest. Please feel free to tag me with your variation of revani recipe in social media. Thank you for reading my blog and feel free to ask any questions below in comments:).
Other Albanian Recipes
Please see some of my other Albanian inspired recipes:).
- Hashure (farro pudding with dried figs)
- Kifle (biskota me reçel)
- Vanilla cookies with oranges
- Quince Jam (reçel ftoi)