Some people have this relationship with chocolate, they can’t live without it, they get sort of addicted and suffer withdrawal symptoms if they go without. Me, I love cake. Don’t get me wrong I like a bit of chocolate but I can live without it for loooong spells but cake is my downfall, my nemesis.
This love is born from an early age, my mum was too good a cook you see. She liked cakes as well.
When writing Androula’s Kitchen of course I had to research cakes. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. So I knuckled down. The trouble is a lot of the cakes they cook in Cyprus are pretty sweet and have a sugar syrup poured over them. I like cake but not usually the very sweet kind. my preferences are the dense variety like fruit cake or a light lemon drizzle, it’s that lemony, zesty, zing that is just delicious, or cakes made with ground nuts and egg whites stiffly beaten. A good Victoria Sponge is hard to beat as long as it has fresh cream and homemade jam in the middle, butter cream is too sickly I find and of course I love a bit carrot cake with a yoghurty topping, I’m sure this should count as one our five a day portions of fruit and veg no?
There are a few cakes they make in Cyprus that are nearer my kind of cake. One is called Revani which is found all over the mediterranean. The twist though is it uses semolina as well as flour and this is also a characteristic of some cakes made in Greece. This gives the cake a denser feel and has a coarser texture. Also as there was no dairy-farming on Cyprus until recently, butter was replaced by sunflower oil traditionally and this is still used in cake making today sometimes.
Another cake which also uses semolina is called Shamili in Cyprus, this is even more unusual as it is made with Yoghurt. In Greece they also have a version of this and not surprisingly it is called Yoghurt cake. Both Revani and Shamili have a syrup poured over them after cooking but the amount of sugar in the cake is adjusted to allow for this so making it no more sweet than a normal cake. I have a theory that the syrup method was used originally as a way of keeping the cake moist in such a hot climate. But we probably will never know who first thought of the idea.