Olive Oil Semolina Cake with Rosewater and Lemon Syrup


This European and middle-eastern inspired sweet is similar to the Turkish and Greek Ravani or Revani, and the Egyptian Basbousa. Rosewater is akin to middle-eastern sweets but have toned it down for an understated and subtle presence.

Traditional syrup cakes are heavy and laden with sugar, here have played-down the sweetness so don’t be afraid to use the syrup as the cake itself is not heavy in sugars.

Lemons are in season usually in winter and this cake certainly brings the sunshine into your home. The zest give the cake that incredible golden glow. So make sure you have plenty of ripe lemons at hand and use all the zest from the lemons.

Lemon and Rosewater Semolina Syrup Cake
Lemon and Rosewater Semolina Syrup Cake

I have provided weight and cup measurements. The weight measurements given are exactly what each item weighs when added into the cake as opposed to working off cup measurements and simply providing the weight measurements from a conversion table. I would prefer if you worked from the weights rather than the cup measurements in particular if your weighing out the semolina.

Semolina, tends to absorb a lot of liquid so if you have even a tablespoon extra it will make a difference in your end result. Don’t let this deter you from making this lovely middle-eastern sponge cake as it is otherwise quite simple to make.

The olive oil helps to lighten the cake and prevent it from being dense due to the semolina.

If you prefer to cook with butter instead of olive oil, you may like to try: Lemon, Semolina and Yogurt Cake – Ravani or the Lemon Thyme, yoghurt semolina cakes.


Zest of 2 lemon ( 5 grams ) rind

2/3 cup (130g) pure olive oil

1/4 cup caster sugar* low sugar cake!

4 eggs separated room temparature

3/4 cup room temperature milk

1 cup + 4 tbspns fine semolina ( 200 g)

3/4 cup plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

Lemon and Rosewater Syrup

3/4 cup white sugar

Juice of 1 lemon 50g not more

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 lemon cut into rings

1 tbspn rosewater

1 cup water

Lemon and Rosewater Semolina Cake


Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Separate your eggs, and beat the egg whites until light and bubbly – not thick.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon rind, caster sugar and eggs yolks until smooth and not tight. Add the milk and egg whites and also mix through.

Use fine semolina, and allow the cake to rest in your mixing bowl for 10 minutes before adding into the cake tin. This step may seem quite redundant, but it gives the semolina a chance to absorb some of the liquid before baking and preventing some of the dryness.

Stir through the semolina, and sift the flour and baking powder. Whisk into the mixture. At this point, the mixture should not be as thick as your regular cake batter. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. At this point, stir again and you will notice the cake batter is slightly thicker.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes. While the cake is baking make your syrup.

Add all the ingredients into a small saucepan and allow to gently simmer for the 30 minutes. It will reduce down and will be thicker. Don’t allow the syrup to thicken too much as the cake will not be able to absorb the liquid. Add a little water if you think its too thick. The syrup should coat the back of the spoon lightly. Take the syrup off the heat, add the rosewater and allow to cool before adding to the cake. The cake will need a few minutes to absorb the liquid

Lemon and Rosewater Semolina Syrup Cake
Lemon and Rosewater Semolina Syrup Cake

Decorate with the glazed lemon slices. They will harden as they cool.

Serve with whipped yoghurt or simply with your favourite tea or coffee.

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful cake! Thanks for posting the recipe… here in Turkey their version also sometimes has poppy seeds in the cake but the syrup is always a bit too sweet for me. I like the idea of adding lemon to the syrup … might be nice to do a lemon poppyseed combo too.

    1. I have a poppyseed and orange syrup cake … I’ll try to post that one at some point… Adding lemon helps to add flavour without the overbearing sweetness. Greeks add too much sugar too …

  2. chefkreso says:

    Delicious cake, my grandma used to make a similar one!

    1. When people mention dishes remind them of their grandmother’s I feel like I have truly done a good job. Thank you 🙏🙂

  3. Megala says:

    Wow, wow, wow ! This is amazing, love this super soft, spongy & moist cake.

  4. Yes, this looks great, good one!!

  5. Glorious! 🍃🌼

  6. I’m a big fan of semolina and citrus cakes, so love this one. Your presentation is beautiful. 🙂

  7. A Slice of this and a cup of coffee would be so good. Gorgeous bake.

  8. foodinbooks says:

    How beautiful this cake is! It looks pretty simple to make, too. I can imagine having this with morning coffee and watching the sun rise. Thank you for sharing!

  9. 😮 what a beautiful cake! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow! this looks awesome

  11. OJ's Pride says:

    Am salivating now😋

  12. Beautiful presentation Marina 🙂 It looks so delicious!!!

    1. Thank you Makos , when you see my gold plate out it means I really really like this cake 😉. I don’t normally like Rosewater as I think people use to much of it. It has just a little – works well with the lemon.

  13. Megan says:

    I made this cake last week for a Greek-themed dinner party and it was perfect!! It reminded me of a sweet lemony cornbread. The syrup was delicious! I kept sneaking tastes before I poured it over the cake. I topped it with some honey greek yogurt. It was a huge hit! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Hi Megan, thank you for taking the time the give me feedback. It makes it all the worthwhile putting these recipes up when i hear people have enjoyed them

  14. Amanda Johns says:

    Could this work in a bundt cake pan?

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