Torta di semolino – semolina cake

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This classic torta di semolino or semolina cake, is understated and elegant in appearance but big on flavour. The soft semolina sponge is a home to decadent rum-soaked raisins, just the thing for an afternoon tea pick-me-up.

First published in 2016

Semolina, confusingly called semolino in Italian, is used a lot in Italian cuisine. It’s the coarsely ground flour of durum wheat (triticum durum), one of the oldest types of wheat still in use today. A finer grade of flour, known as semola is used to make dried pasta and some varieties of fresh pasta, usually without egg.

This semolina cake recipe is adapted from one in the 19th century classic cookbook La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene by Pellegrino Artusi. It has a delicate, creamy flavour lent by the process of cooking the semolina in milk, and caramel notes from the cane sugar.

It’s an easy-to-make cake which you could serve in slices for afternoon tea, or with whipped cream or gelato for a tasty dessert.




Torta di semolino

  • 100g of sultanas
  • 4 tbsp of rum
  • 1 tbsp of plain flour
  • 500ml of milk
  • 65g of semolina
  • 10g of unsalted butter
  • 65g of cane sugar
  • 50g of ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • icing sugar


Soak the sultanas in the rum overnight. Drain, dry with paper towels then dust the raisins with the flour
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan. Turn down the heat then sprinkle the semolina on top. Stir the semolina in with a balloon whisk and cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened, whisking all the time to avoid lumps
Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until it has melted. Stir in the sugar and ground almonds. When the mixture is completely combined, leave the to cool for about 10 minutes
Meanwhile, grease a 22cm cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper
Beat the eggs then stir them into the mixture until fully combined. Add the sultanas, mix well, then transfer to the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes
Allow the cake to cool then remove it from the tin and sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve with tea or a fine Italian espresso coffee. Alternatively, serve with a quenelle of gelato as a dessert
First published in 2016

Luca Marchiori is a food writer, recipe developer and food historian. His blog Luca’s Italy is all about discovering authentic Italian food and sharing the recipes that Italians really eat.

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