I was meant to write this post 2 weeks ago. I can only hope that it rested well and turned as fine as Turkish sponge cake called revani. With revani you bake the cake, pour over the syrup and then let it rest so the cake hungrily soaks in all the syrup. Making the Turkish sponge cake can turn into a fairly quick deal if you serve it still warm. Yet I find that it reaches perfection when the cake is cooled completely or even chilled overnight. I wonder if a post nursed for 2 weeks can be compared with a rested sponge cake.
I’ve gone on the much needed vacation and got back as tired as ever. Since I left my office job I have been living and working on my own terms. This means, in theory, that taking time to rest should have been easy. Yet it has been my most impossible pursuit.
Besides our brief yet colorful trip to Ayvalik on the Turkish Aegean coast me and Ozgur have not taken other opportunity to rest over the past year. So I thought it was high time to go to Russia and see my family and friends.
Our vacation has started with 3 breakfasts we prepared for our hosts and 1 dinner party we organized for my 15 former colleagues and their spouses. As our family was working hard serving our guests at the farmhouse on the Istanbul countryside that weekend we did exactly the same thing at the countryside of Moscow.
And I must say with pleasure. Because this was a way to thank our graceful hosts and welcome former colleagues who all are really great people. By treating them to good food and some care. We shipped some cheese, olives and bunch of Turkish cooking condiments and went for full fledged Turkish spread with starters, mangal and dessert (sponge cake, needless to say). Their happy faces after the sampled treats was the biggest reward for me.
Maybe it is my running my lifestyle business versus working in the office, maybe it is being married versus running around free and uncommitted. But the result is the same: many of my definitions have changed. Meaning of being productive, meaning of earning money, meaning of learning. Of being happy. Of getting rest.
Just before the vacation I spoke to my sister and close friend who in one voice yet independently prescribed me vacation, “You need rest”. I got taken aback. I thought I did not need any. I work on my own terms. My food tours and cooking classes take 3-4 days a week and sometimes I have a whole week off leaving it to Ozge. The rest of the week I am at Sapanca where no one forces me to do anything. So I am with family, on my own, at the kitchen if I want or reading and writing in my room if I prefer. I am not under pressure to do anything of that. I am not working hard. And don’t need so much rest.
Yet on the other hand I am working all the time. I am reading as a part of my research on Turkish food, corresponding with my prospective clients, interacting with my followers on the social networks, writing this blog, cooking or helping at the kitchen, being a part of a big family here in Turkey and trying not to forget I have family and friends elsewhere too.
And when I am frustrated I work to rest too. “Why do you bother with those ravioli?,” my mother-in-law asks. “I want to clear my head: I am not bothered by a single thought as I am rolling the dough!” “Ah”, she says, “Then sure go ahead!”
When work is a lifestyle business and your home kitchen is a workplace it is hard to draw the line at times. Am I working at our countryside kitchen or spending time with my mother-in-law learning what I can from her?
I think I am resting during my daily half-an-hour yoga session at least. This is when I try to exclude myself from the happening of the outside world. And let myself be without any plans, aspirations, obligations and ambitions. I stay still relaxing or meditating throughout most of the practice – it looks like I am resting while inside it is a fierce work. To let my thoughts go, to curb my ego and develop humbleness. It is particularly hard to ignore the thoughts about the menu for the coming lunch: once I have directed so much energy into thinking about grape leave dolma that when I got down to the kitchen afterwards there was a pile of fresh leaves our gardener had collected. I wished I had devoted myself to thinking about something more important with such determination.
Maybe this is what is happening to the sponge cake during the resting too: we think it is peaceful and still while the sugar syrup is working its way through the slight resistance of the spongy biscuit to create that rich taste as a result.
With pleasantly grainy texture of semolina and sinful touch of lemon syrup, this spongy cake is impossible to fail and guaranteed to please.
Prep Time: 5 Min
Cook Time: 35 Min
Total Time: 40 Min
- 1 cup all-purpose flour sieved
- 1 cup semolina
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup thick yoghurt
- 1/2 lemon finely grated peel of
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 3 tsp baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 2.5 cups sugar
- 2.5 cups water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Make the syrup: In large bowl combine sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to boil and gently simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the syrup just begins to thicken – you still want it very-very runny. Set the syrup aside to cool down completely before using.
- Make the batter: Preheat the oven to 170C/338F. Mix all the ingredients well, transfer the batter into a large greased tray and send to the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top turns golden brown.
- Assemble the cake: As you take the cake out of the oven immediately poor the cooled down syrup over making sure the syrup spreads evenly. Set aside for at least 30 minutes: the cake to soak in all the syrup and cool down as it should before serving. The cake refrigerates well for about a week.