Here is a classic sweet that we had in Sorrento, Pompeii, and surrounding areas. It's not desperately sweet, and it's heavy and moist so you can serve it in thin slices. It's great with fresh espresso!
1 hour, 30 minutes
1 cwhole milk (very fresh)
1 1⁄2 cSugar
1 1⁄2 cSemolina Flour
1Lemon Zest (long peels)
4 TButter (Unsalted)
2 tVanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Butter and flour a nine-inch round cake pan.
Get two types of zest from the two lemons: for one, four to five large, wide swaths of zest; for the other, use a microplane grater to create finely shaved zest
In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, water, butter, and long peels of lemon zest just to a simmer. As soon as the milk starts to bubble, remove the strips of zest with a slotted spoon or fine-mesh strainer and discard.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, granulated sugar, finely grated zest, and vanilla extract, and mix well with a wooden spoon or electric hand mixer on medium-low until well blended.
Gradually add the semolina mixture to the ricotta mixture, stirring well to create a smooth, creamy mixture without any large lumps (a few small lumps are fine).
Sprinkle the semolina into the pot gradually, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir until the mixture thickens and becomes dense and smooth, one to two minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Transfer the mixture to the cake pan. Bake until the cake is firm and the top is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Let cool completely, then sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar before serving.
The original suggests an optional 1.5 tsp limoncello, but I think that's gilding the lily if you're using good ingredients, and there's some pretty mediocre limoncello out there.