FIstIklI Revani is a sweet Turkish cake with a lovely gritty texture made from ground pistachios and semolina and served with a syrup that gets absorbed into the cake. My mother-in-law first showed this to me over 15 years ago…and last night was the first time I flew solo on this recipe, which isn’t inherently difficult but requires some attention to balance. Here’s what I learned: it’s all about the special relationship between cake and syrup – that which is absorbing needs to be able to take in moisture, and that which is absorbed needs to have the right viscosity to permeate. If the syrup is too thick, it won’t absorb into the cake, and if it’s too thin, it’ll just run all over the plate. And the cake needs (borrowing the next phrase from my emergency-ready husband) to be ready for all contingencies – to compensate for any syrup flaws by providing the environmental conditions for ideal moisture absorption.
This absorption balance is how a book repels moisture or how skin remains supple or wood doesn’t warp. And it occurred to me there’s also a magical absorption element to family and friendship – the right dynamic between people helps to absorb the difficult things in our lives, thereby mitigating the stings, and also helps to soak up our in-the-moment joys, thereby extending our smiles. The devil is in finding the balance between cake consistency and syrup viscosity – the wrong dynamic won’t satisfy the conditions to allow absorption, but the right one makes being connected seamless – and scrumptious.
A special thanks go out to the seamless and scrumptious family and friends who took my sticky-note recipe for a taste-test drive last night – Tolga, Muzzy, Marilywn, Maureen, and Freddie (- who, through his own ingenuity, decided it was also dunk-worthy in his Earl Grey tea).
- 1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, finely ground (food processor works great)
- 1 cup semolina
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 eggs
- 2 tbspns lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp orange extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ~2-inch vanilla bean, split open
- preheat oven to 350 degrees
- butter and flour 9 x 13 inch pan, put into fridge until ready to use
- grind pistachios in food processor – set aside 1/4 cup for garnish at the end!
- mix dry ingredients – pistachios, semolina, all-purpose flour – by hand (this is a very specific directive from Anne herself…) in large bowl
- in a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, zest, vanilla and orange extracts on a high speed until frothy like egg nog (about 5-7 minutes)
- combine wet and dry and pour into pan
- bake for 30 minutes
- boil syrup ingredients – sugar, water, lemon juice, split vanilla bean
- simmer for another 10-15 minutes
Slice and pour syrup over sliced cake in pan – or alternatively slice and serve cake, pouring syrup over each plated square – and garnishing with the extra ground pistachios.