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Semolina Cake

  • Author: Emiko Davies, adapted from Pellegrino Artusi's Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


A light, moist Italian cake delicately flavoured with lemon and almonds.


  • 1 litre / 1 quart whole milk
  • 130 gr / 4.5 ounces of fine semolina
  • 130 gr / 4.5 ounces sugar
  • 100 gr / 3.5 ounces of almonds
  • 20 gr / 1 ½ tablespoons of butter
  • 4 small eggs (or 3 large ones)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt


  1. Prepare the almond meal by removing the dark brown skins of the almonds first. This is easily done by first blanching them quickly. If you already have peeled almonds, go ahead and pop them into a food processor to finely grind them together with the sugar, added one tablespoonful at a time. Artusi advises doing this step in a mortar and pestle, which I have to say will probably give you better results than the food processor. A food processor leaves the almond meal slightly rough and a little uneven. By doing this in a mortar and pestle you will extract more of the oil from the almonds resulting in a finer paste and a smoother textured cake.
  2. Combine the semolina with the milk in a pot over low heat and whisk constantly to prevent lumps or burning. The semolina takes about 8-10 minutes to cook. As it cooks, it should thicken and when tasted it should feel soft and creamy, not grainy. Just before taking it off the heat, stir in the almond meal, the butter, lemon zest and pinch of salt until combined.
  3. Allow the semolina mixture to cool before adding in the eggs (beaten separately in another bowl). Once combined, pour the mixture into a greased and floured (or lined) cake tin large enough that the cake is no more than 1 ½ – 2 ‘fingers’ (as Artusi indicates) in height. A 26cm or 10 inch diameter round cake tin should be perfect.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C or 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until set and evenly golden brown on top.
  5. Allow the cake to cool completely and just before serving, dust with icing sugar. This is such a moist cake that the icing sugar will just melt into the surface of the cake if it is left too long. Any remaining portions should be kept in the refrigerator.
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
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