Fiction-Food Café

March 16, 2019

Ravani Syrup Cake | Bloom


"Oooooh. What's this?"

"It's called Ravani. I learned how to make it from Ari's mom. It's coconut cake soaked in syrup. It's the most Samoa-y Greek food I've ever tasted."

          Bloom is a beautiful and sweet slice-of-life boy's romance published through First Second Books. Ari (short for Aristotle) is from a Greek family that owns a small bakery, but instead of helping out with the family business, he wants to move to the city with his band now that he's graduated high school. While looking for someone to replace him at the shop, he meets Hector, a culinary college student who's in town to take care of his Samoan grandmother's belongings after she recently passed away. Hector decides to take a semester off and applies to Ari's family bakery, where he puts his baking skills to use, and grows close to Ari and his family.

          At 368 pages, Bloom (titled after the "bloom"/finish of a loaf of bread*) packs a nice story to sink into. It features a lot of food within the narrative, in mention and/or image, like blueberry muffins, red velvet cupcakes, single serve pizza, panipopo, carrot cake, fa'apapa, baguettes, and more! At the very back there's even a recipe for the bakery's signature sourdough rolls! In an interview, writer Kevin Panetta said that he made all of the food in the book and had originally wanted to include all of the recipes, but that would have made the book too huge! > o < It's cool to know that there was such a passion for food behind the story. :)

*("Bloom" is also the term used for when dry yeast is activated with warm water and sugar, prior to combining it with other ingredients.)

Ravani Syrup Cake

1 1/2 Cup Water
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
Juice from 1 Clementine (zest it first for the cake)
4 lrg. Eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
1/2 - 1 tsp. Clementine Zest
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Cup Fine Semolina Flour
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Unsweetened Fine Shredded Coconut (pulse to make finer if desired)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
Halved/Sliced Almonds

Syrup: Put the water, sugar, & clementine juice into a small pot & cook on medium heat just until the sugar is completely melted. Let cool & then chill in the fridge (can be made in advance).

Cake: Pre-heat your oven to 350*F. Lightly oil a 9” round spring-form pan.
Put the egg yolks into the bowl of a standing mixer, add the granulated sugar, & beat with the paddle attachment until pale & fluffy. Add the oil, zest, & yogurt & mix on low-medium to combine.

In another large bowl whisk the flours, shredded coconut, baking powder, & baking soda. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl & mix on low until combined. Scrape the mixture into the large bowl that had the dry ingredients & set aside.

Wash & dry your mixing bowl well & then put in the egg whites. Sift in the cream of tartar & whisk (using the whisk attachment) until fluffy with medium-stiff peaks.
Fold about 1/4 of the whites into the batter until just combined, & then add in the rest, folding & lifting gently until combined.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan & spread evenly. Bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes, until the top is deep golden brown & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not open the oven door while it’s baking!

Let the cake cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife slice the cake into a crosshatch/diamond pattern, & also slide the knife around the sides of the pan. Slowly pour about 3/4 of the chilled syrup all over the hot cake so it can be absorbed evenly (you can add more syrup, or save it for serving later).

Decorate each diamond with an almond (or you can sprinkle with coconut or extra zest, or leave plain). Once the cake has cooled completely & the syrup is absorbed, remove the sides of the spring-form, & then transfer the diamonds to a serving plate, in a pattern of your choice (in Bloom, they are plated as a 6-pointed star). If you have extra syrup, pour some on if you’d like. Great served with (unsweetened) tea.

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