No Flour- Lemon and Toasted Coconut Cake


RAVANI – A traditional olive oil based cake for pesach-with a twist!
This is a flavorsome and olive-oily gluten-free cake with a hint of lemon or lime, and toasted coconut, coupled with the grittiness of the polenta and tender rubble of ground almonds which provide a wholly desirable dampness and grit compared to the usual flour.
The traditional greek “Ravani” cake is made with butter, which I have replaced with olive oil and I have substituted semolina for polenta, to add another layer of toastiness and body. I have also reduced the sugar by half from the original recipe, and it is still sweet and light!
If you want to omit the syrup portion of the recipe, and eat the cake right out of the oven, then add 150 grams of sugar to the cake batter (instead of 100 grams), and omit the syrup entirely. Your cake will still be delicious and divine. I find that the traditional syrupy recipe is just too sweet for most modern and health conscious palettes that want delicious but not overly sweet,
Many times this is my preferred way to eat it, without the syrup, but I never heard a complaint either way. The cake will be enjoyed either way, guaranteed

And ofcourse, there is still so much more to love about this recipe.
By some alchemical process, the lemon highlights the olive oil-butteriness of the cake, making it rich, fresh and zingy at the same time. If you were to try to imagine what a healthy version of lemon curd would taste like in cake form, this would be it. And ofcourse, you can also make it vegan, by substituting the eggs with a wet egg replacer.

For the Syrup (Can also be omitted entirely)

250 ml of water
Juice of 2 lemons
150 gr. Sugar of choice ( I use either light brown cane sugar, or coconut sugar)
2 TBS  honey
lemon peels from 1 lemon
1 stick of cinnamon

Batter Ingredients:

200 grams of Olive Oil (plus some for greasing)
100 grams light brown sugar (Or 150 grrams of sugar, f you are not adding the syrup)
100 grams ground almonds
100 grams coconut flakes (And more for decorating)
100 grams polenta (or cornmeal-not corn flour)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
¼ tsp ground up Mastiha (optional-but this is traditional in some regional recipes)
zest of 2 unwaxed lemons, preferably organic  (save juice for syrup)

Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment and
grease its sides lightly with olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 180°C on fan.

First start with your syrup, so that it can cool in time to pour over the hot cake. This is an important step. The syrup should be cool and the cake should be hot out of the oven when the two are combined.

Make the syrup by bringing the water, lemon juice and peels to a boil, along with the sugar and cinnamon stick in a smallish saucepan.
Once the sugar has dissolved into the juice, you’re done.

In the meantime, beat the olive oil, eggs and sugar until whipped, either by a hand whisk in a bowl, or with a wooden spoon, or using a mixer.

Take your coconut and toast it in a pan, stirring constantly at medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Be careful not to burn it, as coconut can burn very quickly once it comes up to temperature, and should be placed into a large bowl as soon as it is done.

Now in the same bowl with the coconut, combine together the almonds, polenta, baking powder and mastiha (if using), and add it in parts to the wet ingredients by beating all the while.
Finally, mix in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin, and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, keeping an eye on it after 35 minutes have passed.

It may seem wobbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish. You know it’s done when the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
Once your cake comes out of the oven, then it is time to pour the cool syrup over it, or eat it as is.
Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester or toothpick and pour the cooled syrup over the cake, and leave to rest, and cool before taking it out of its tin.
Top off with more raw or toasted coconut, and enjoy with a lemon or coconut flavored ice cream or sorbet, for a festive, healthy and delicious bite!

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