Whoever discovered that roses taste as good as they smell… thank you. You’ve helped me justify having so many different roses in my garden. Not that I felt I had to have an excuse, but there’s nothing wrong with having one ready, you know?
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Roses are more commonly found in desserts from the Middle East and into parts of eastern Europe. Usually rose water is used to add that unique, floral flavor. Rose water is made in much the same way as other extracts and is concentrated. However, it can sometimes be overwhelming in flavor if not used carefully. The petals are completely edible, so it’s perfectly fine to use them instead for a more subtle flavor.
Revani is a dessert found across the Middle East and into Greece. Revani (also spelled Ravani) goes by a few different names, but has the common features of being made with semolina flour and drenched in a syrup after it’s baked (and Greeks loooooove their syrup soaked desserts!). One of the more typical versions found in Greece uses orange juice, giving it a delightful citrusy flavor.
This version of revani uses a syrup made from fresh rose petals that gets ladled over the freshly baked cake that also has petals and crushed pistachios inside. The end result is a lightly floral-flavored cake with a subtle crunch. Not only does it taste amazing, it’s also rather pretty. The petals add color and texture on the inside and a decorative appearance on top.
Some quick notes before you begin:
Use caution when selecting roses for this recipe. Do not use those that were sold as a bouquet from a florist. Often those roses have been sprayed with pesticides and may have had other preservatives used in the water to keep them looking good. Use roses that you know have been organically grown or are otherwise safe for eating if you don’t have your own.
Wash the roses first before removing the petals. It will be much easier to get them cleaned and to check for any critters. This will also allow you to shake out the excess water far more easily than if the petals are sticking together.
Though all rose petals are edible, not all will have the best flavor. Those that have a stronger scent typically also have better flavor. It does not matter what color they are, though pink, red, and purple flowers will look the best after being cooked.
Allow your egg whites to reach room temperature before beating, and be careful when mixing them into the batter. The bubbles in the whites will provide a lot of the lift you need for your cake to rise, so overmixing the whites will cause you to have a too-dense cake. (See this post here for an easy way to separate eggs!)
For these types of desserts, you want the cake hot and the syrup cooled. A hot cake will absorb the syrup better, but if a hot syrup is added the cake will turn to mush. This means the syrup needs to be made first so it has a chance to cool. You don’t want it cold, just room temperature.
This is not the best cake to dive into right after it comes out of the oven. Give it time to sit, best for several hours if not a full day. You will be amazed at how much the flavor improves when the ingredients have a chance to mingle together.
Rose Petal & Pistachio Revani Recipe
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For the syrup:
- 1 cup packed rose petals, washed and gently shaken dry
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
For the cake:
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick or 4 Tbsp.), softened at room temperature
- 5 eggs, separated (see video tutorial here)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed rose petals, washed and gently shaken dry
- 1/2 cup crushed pistachios, plus extra for garnish
Place all the ingredients for the syrup into a small pot. Bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute, stirring only as needed to prevent the syrup from boiling over or the petals from sticking to the pot. Cover and remove from heat to cool, but do not refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil or butter a 9-inch round cake pan or an 8 x 8 inch square pan, with sides that are about 2 inches high.
In a small bowl, measure out the flour and baking powder. Whisk together until the baking powder is mixed in. Set bowl aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter until light in color and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add the lemon juice, salt, and sugar and beat until completely combined and the sugar is mostly dissolved. Blend in the rose petals and pistachios, then gently mix in the flour mixture until all is combined. Set the bowl aside.
Whisk the egg whites until they are just beginning to be stiff. You should be able to make a peak with the foam that just holds its shape, and the whites should be a little glossy. Very gently fold the egg whites a third at a time into the batter. You will add each amount before the previous one has been completely mixed in. Once all the whites have been added you will continue to fold gently until it is fully incorporated. You want to do this very gently so that you don’t completely deflate all the bubbles in the egg whites as this is where a lot of your cake’s rise will come from. Don’t use a mixer!!
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, gently smooth the surface, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave the cake in the pan and set on a cooling rack.
Immediately begin gently ladling half of the syrup with the rose petals evenly over the surface of the cake. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining crushed pistachios, then ladle the rest of the syrup with petals over. Doing it this way allows the pistachios to be held in place by the syrup, but keeps them from being buried under the petals. Gently distribute the rose petals as needed/desired.
Allow the cake to continue to cool in the pan uncovered until it is cooled enough to comfortably touch. At this point cover with plastic wrap or foil and allow to sit unrefrigerated for several hours to a day before serving. Trust me, the wait will be worth the improved flavor. You can store the cake after that in the freezer or fridge, but be sure to let it come to room temperature before serving for the best flavor. Enjoy!