Greek Dessertsemolina cake

Semolina Cake
(Makes 24 2" squares)

Ravani is delicious! A cake made of semolina flour, almonds and a hint of orange. Drizzle with a sweet lemony syrup before serving.

1 1/3 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C sugar (divided)
3/4 C plus 2 T butter (softened)
1 orange (grated zest and juice)
1 C semolina or Cream of Wheat (see sidebar)
6 eggs (separated)
3/4 C sliced almonds

1 1/4 C sugar
1/2 C water
2 tsp. rosewater (see Tips & Glossary)
1 T lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, sift together first 3 ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, cream together butter, 1/2 the sugar, yolks, and orange zest. To this mixture, add the sifted flour mixture. Then add semolina, orange juice, and almonds.

In a third bowl, beat egg whites till stiff, gradually adding remaining 1/2 sugar. Gently fold egg whites into flour/semolina mixture and pour batter into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool in pan. When cool, pour hot syrup over cake. Cut cake into 24 squares and serve.

Syrup: bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil 5 minutes, and add rosewater and lemon juice. Pour over still-hot cake.

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Tips & Glossary

You may not have a number of ingredients used in Greek cooking in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Mid-Eastern food stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.

Filo: aka phyllo, paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Purchase frozen in most grocery stores and follow directions on package for thawing. When working with a sheet, keep others covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.

Grape Leaves: Grape leaves are sold canned in salted oil. Rinse off the salt before using. If you want, prepare your own: find fresh, tender young leaves and plunge them for 1 minute into boiling water (with 1 or 2 T lemon juice). Then proceed with recipe. After blanching, you can freeze them for later use. Here’s how: blanch as above, dunk in iced water, pat dry with towels, and seal in an air-tight plastic bag. They're safe for 6 months, but use quickly when thawed.

Nutmeg: Use small whole nuts and store them, tightly covered, in a dry dark area. Grate what you need using the smallest grating edge or grind in a food processor. What a difference from store bought nutmeg!

Pine Nuts: edible seeds of pine trees used in many Greek dishes. Before cooking, release flavor by lightly browning in a heated skillet

Skewers: Use metal or wooden skewers for kebobs. If wooden, soak 30 minutes before using to prevent them from catching on fire.

Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own. But, seriously, why would you? Purchase it at Asian or Mid-Eastern stores.

Semolina: aka farina or Cream of Wheat; a coarsely ground wheat grain. You also know it as couscous. If made from durum wheat, it is used to make pasta.

Tarama: poor-man's caviar. From carp roe, it is pinkish-orange and is what (along with food dye) gives taramasalata its lovely color. Buy it jarred in Mid-Eastern food stores.


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