Semolina and Lemon Torta

lemon torta_post image


Makes two 9-inch cakes; each cake serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup finely ground fresh breadcrumbs

6 cups whole milk

Zest of 1 orange, removed in wide strips with a vegetable peeler

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup sugar

8 ounces semolina flour

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

8 eggs: 1 whole, 7 separated

1 pound fresh ricotta, drained

Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons

¼ cup Grand Marnier

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.


Use the olive oil to grease the sides and bottom of the two deep 9-inch springform pans. Dust them with the breadcrumbs, and refrigerate.


Pour the milk into a nonreactive saucepan, and add the strips of orange zest, the cinnamon stick, and the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then remove from the heat and remove the orange zest and the cinnamon stick. Whisking constantly, slowly add the semolina in a thin stream, making sure to beat out any lumps that try to form. Return the pan to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter, and stir until it has melted. Allow the mixture to cool.


In a small bowl, beat the whole egg and the 7 yolks together. Stir the eggs into the semolina mixture.


In a large mixing bowl, mix together the ricotta, grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and the Grand Marnier. Add the semolina mixture to the ricotta mixture, and mix well.


In yet another large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the stiff whites into the ricotta-semolina mixture.


Divide the batter evenly between the chilled springform pans, and place them in the oven. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cakes are golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes our clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Release the springform side, dust the cakes with confectioners’ sugar, and cut into wedges to serve.


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