For those that are visiting Greece this summer, I encourage you to also travel north to Greece’s second largest city Thessaloniki. After you’re done seeing the sites, smelling and ultimately tasting the food then you should consider a day trip just one hour south to the city of Veria. Veria is reachable by train, bus and car and nearby is the Vergina tombs and museum showcasing over 2000 years of Greek history and artifacts.
Near Vergina is the city of Veria: one side is modern, kind of drab with rows of apartments like many Greek cities but the north side of the city is old, full of well-preserved Byzantine churches (and iconography) in the Kyriotissa Quarter. St. Paul also visited Beria during his Second Journey. Ask any one of the locals and they will direct you to the monument.
As you’re walking through Veria you will also see several shops selling Revani, a syrup sponge cake that is a specialty of this city. There are many recipes for this classic including one with coconut but this is the family’s recipe, it’s easy and it went over HUGE at my last Greek Supper Club served with Lemon Cocount Ice Cream.
(makes about 30 pieces)
1 cup of ground rusk (or bread crumbs)
1 cup fine Semolina flour
1 cup of toasted almonds
3 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups of water
3 cups of sugar
juice and peels stripped from 1 lemon
1 shot of Cognac
9″ X 14″ baking pan, buttered and coated in flour
Pre-heated 350F oven
- Using your food processor, keep on pulsing your almonds until you get a medium ground mixture that are fine and some noticeable pieces of almonds/
- Add to a large bowl along with the remaining dry ingredients. Mix and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add your sugar and eggs and beat with a hand mixer until you achieve a consistency of almost stiff peaks.
- Fold the dry ingredients in small batches (DO NOT add all the dry at once). As the wet absorbs the dry, add more until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Carefully pour the cake batter into the baking pan and place in your preheated oven (middle rack) for 30-35 minutes.
- In the meantime, make your syrup by adding the water, sugar, lemon peel and bring to a boil. Now simmer on medium heat for 6 minutes. Add the lemon juice and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Add the Cognac, stir and take off the heat and allow to cool.
- To complete your Revani, the cake must absorb the syrup. There are two ways to do this: add cool syrup to just out of the oven cake or add hot syrup to room temperature cake. I prefer to add cooled syrup to a just out of the oven cake. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves and pour the syrup one ladle at a time time until all the syrup has been absorbed by the cake.
- Cut your Revani into diamond shaped pieces and serve at room temperature with Lemon-Coconut Ice Cream. Store in a sealed container for up to one week.
NOTE: Have a look at my friend Peter’s Revani at Souvlaki for the Soul
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