This recipe is from Tuscany.
No sooner is carnival out the way than we have an excuse for another sweet blow-out: San Valentino, or Valentine’s Day. And in a country famed for lovers and romance it’s seen as a big occasion—notwithstanding the fact that the original Saint Valentine was Italian.
It’s also the very beginning of the strawberry season here in Italy with fruit from the milder south appearing in the shops. So inspired by both of these things I created this romantic dessert.
Torta di Semolino, is actually a very traditional dessert here in Tuscany. It’s included in La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene by Pellegrino Artusi and in fact this recipe is based on his. It starts out with a kind of Semolina Pudding that will be very familiar to British readers of a certain age. It’s then set with eggs and baked into something more like a Bread and Butter Pudding. (Both of these ‘puddings’ are typical British desserts.)
To make it more San Valentino, I’ve added a salsa di fragola (strawberry sauce) and heart-shaped strawberries as a garnish. The cake itself has an amazing creaminess which is complemented perfectly by the fruit, but it’s equally tasty on its own.
Whether you enjoy this with friends, with your loved one, or as a treat on your own, you’re sure to want a second slice. Go on!
Torta di semolino
Preparation time: 30 mins
Baking time: 45 mins
Total time: 1hr 15 mins
For the torta di semolino:
500ml (2 cups) milk
65g (2 1/3 ounces) semolina
65g (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
50g (2 ounces) ground almonds
10g (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
a small pinch of salt
For the salsa di fragola:
250g (9 ounces) strawberries, quartered
50g (2 ounces) sugar
100ml (1/2 cup) water
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (355° F).
- Butter and line a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan.
- Turn down the heat and sprinkle the semolina on top of the milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Continue stirring until the semolina thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar, almonds, and butter. Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar and almonds combined.
- Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Whisk the eggs together until frothy.
- Pour the eggs over the semolina and combine with a whisk to avoid lumps.
- Pour into the cake tin and then bake for 45 mins.
- Remove from the tine and allow to cool completely.
- Make the salsa di fragola by heating all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and then gently simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then blend and pass through a sieve.
- Cut the cake into six equal slices. Garnish with slices of fresh strawberry cut into heart shapes and the salsa di fragola. Dust with icing sugar before serving.