This cake is the happy result of an experiment in gluten-free baking* for my Lovely Flatmate, who is gluten-intolerant, but lacks the willpower to resist my baked goods. It’s based loosely on a Greek cake called Revani, which traditionally is made of a mixture of semolina and almond flour, and sweetened with a sticky orange syrup. My version substitutes lime for the orange and adds plenty of cocoa. It’s a delightful crumbly-but-moist tea cake, with a hint of crunch from the semolina. It meets my ‘specialty diet’ test, meaning that I would bake this cake again for people without dietary restrictions. Lovely Flatmate consumed the entire cake in two days (hurrah! Also, slightly alarming).
This cake is also something of a cautionary tale. I’ve managed to largely resist the urge to buy cute china and utensils, rattan mats and distressed wooden boards that I use only for food photography, although this possibly is because my budget doesn’t allow for them. I do devote time and attention to the photos on my blog; if the food doesn’t look like it tastes good, why would anyone want to cook it? Nevertheless, I’ve not been entirely immune to the ferocious lure of competitive food styling. Which is how, having reached a near-hallucinatory state some 20 or so photos in, I found myself asking, “why am I sprinkling cocoa powder on my counter?” A reminder, I suppose, to keep it real.
* Although semolina flour has a lower gluten content than wheat flour, it is not actually gluten free. So it would not be suitable for people with coeliac disease or serious gluten intolerance. These people should use a gluten-free substitute for the semolina, such as polenta flour.
** The measurements below are in US cups; I kept a careful record of metric weights but my computer crashed, and I couldn’t recall all of them. Here is a link to a conversion chart, which includes most of these ingredients, with my apologies.
Note: you can increase the amount of cocoa and decrease the sugar if you want a more bitter cake.
For the cake
1 cup semolina flour or suitable gluten-free alternative, such as polenta flour
1 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used 70% dark)
½ teaspoon salt
Zest one lime
1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup confectioners (icing) sugar
4 medium eggs, separated
100 g (6.5 tablespoons) butter, melted
2/3 cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the syrup
Juice two limes
½ cup confectioners sugar
¼ cup flaked almonds, toasted
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and butter a springform cake pan.
Combine the semolina, almond flour, salt, baking powder, and lime zest in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla paste, melted butter, and confectioner’s sugar. It will have the consistency of thick custard.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg yolk mixture and 1/3 of the egg whites into the dry ingredients. Then fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to overmix. Pour into your prepared cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the cake comes out dry.
While the cake is baking, combine the lime juice and confectioner’s sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the syrup is bubbling and thickened.
As soon as the cake is done, gently run a knife around the edge and loosen and remove the spring form side. Pour the syrup over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Cool completely before serving.