Makes 15 servings
This sweet cake, revani, is extremely popular in Turkey. Arzu Yilmaz, a talented Turkish cooking teacher, taught me the recipe. Like many Turkish desserts, it is soaked with a sugar syrup, which adds sweetness as well as keeping properties. In fact, the cake is best the day after it is baked, and it keeps well for about 1 week in the refrigerator. Make the syrup ahead of time, because it must be cold when used.
Fine semolina, made from durum wheat, adds a great depth of flavor to the cake. You can find it in health food stores and in well-stocked supermarkets. Serve the cake with whipped cream or, if you can get it, with kaymak, a Turkish cream.
To make the syrup, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir almost constantly until the liquid comes to a full rolling boil. Reduce the heat so that the syrup boils slowly and cook, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least several hours, or overnight.
To make the cake, adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
Sift the flour together with the baking powder and semolina twice.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, use the whip attachment to beat the egg yolks with the sugar on medium speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the yolks have increased in volume and are very pale and thick. On low speed, beat in the vanilla, lemon zest, and milk. Add the dry ingredients and beat just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into a large wide bowl. Wash and dry the mixer bowl and whip.
Put the egg whites and salt into the clean mixer bowl and beat on medium-low speed until the whites are frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until the whites form puffy, droopy peaks that curl slightly at their tips when the beater is raised. With a large rubber spatula, gradually fold the whites into the yolks—about 3 additions—only until no whites show. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is an even golden brown, the cake springs back in the center when gently pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Set the cake pan on a wire rack and immediately begin brushing the hot melted butter all over the top of the cake, using it all. This will take a couple of minutes. Cut the cake, in its pan, into 15 portions with a small sharp serrated knife. Slowly pour the cold syrup all over the cake, using it all. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the pistachios. Let the cake stand at room temperature until it has cooled completely.
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving.
The cake gets even better over a few days in the refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before serving, with the whipped cream.
This page created March 2008
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