My friend, Chef Maria – who does the Italy meets India classes at the PC Cooking Schools with me, loves Durham Semolina Wheat. She has always used it in her pasta (which she makes from scratch in our class) and has made me a convert. When I went to Italy last year, we made pasta from scratch. The Italian Chef was horrified when I asked if we were using “all-purpose flour” (she spoke English about as well as I spoke Italian, but really, no translation was required for the look she gave me). I know this because Maria speaks English and she had the same look on her face (before the words came flying out – in English!) the first time I suggested it to her! The semolina I used was not the finely ground powdered semolina (Unico brand Durum Semolina) but had grains that you could see – almost like a finely ground polenta. Yes, these measurements are in grams, so please go out and buy a kitchen scale. About $20 for a good digital scale at your local kitchen supply store.

But this wonderful product is not just for savory dishes, it is also for desserts and this recipe is a great demonstration of its versatility. This Torta comes together beautifully and tastes even better. I used currants soaked in spiced rum the first time I made it and in white rum the next time. I liked both flavors. If you are forward enough thinking, soak the currants the night before. If – like me, you are not, then microwave the currants with the rum in a glass bowl, two to three 30 second blitzes – wait for a couple of seconds between blitzes. The currants will plump up and soften as they absorb the rum. Remember to wait before starting each 30 second blitz – it is alcohol that is heating up and is susceptible to flaming.

The original recipe said to use sultanas which tend to be more absorbent of liquids and tastes, but I love currants as much as Maria loves semolina and will often substitute them in recipes. This can be called a one pot cake and really, who doesn’t love minimal cleanup? There isn’t any baking powder, baking soda or much flour in this recipe so it’s important that you use an 8”cake pan. My first go was with a 9” pan and while equally delicious, it was a very flat torte (flatter than a normal torte). Make this and enjoy the cake with some nice strong coffee or tea or glass of wine! It does not need anything but you could serve it with some not quite stiff whipping cream yet – softer than soft peak stage. As always – enjoy!

100g of currants
4 tbsp of rum – white or spiced
1 tbsp of all-purpose flour
500ml of milk – I used 2%
65g semolina
10g unsalted Churn 84 (butter)
65g sugar
50g ground almonds
2 eggs
Icing sugar for dusting

Soak the currants in the rum overnight or use the microwave method I spoke of above the same day
Preheat the oven to 350f and spray/butter a 7” cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper
Bring the milk to the boil in a non-stick pot
Remove from the heat and sprinkle the semolina on top – immediately stir/whisk to incorporate
Reduce the heat to medium and continue whisking, about 5 minutes — ensure you get into the edges of the pot as you will get scorching and you will see the scorched bits in the mixture – it’s still good and doesn’t show up in the final product
Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until it has melted
Stir in the sugar and ground almonds – allow it to cool
In the meantime, dry the currants with paper towels then dust with the flour – much like fruitcake, this helps the dried fruit stay afloat and not sink to the bottom
Beat the eggs then stir them into the mixture until fully combined
Add the currants, mix well, then transfer to the cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes
Test at 40 minutes with a toothpick – the toothpick will not have batter on it but watch for any liquid on the tip and gage your time accordingly, or remove from the oven
Allow the cake to cool then remove it from the tin and sprinkle with icing sugar
Once cool, dust with icing sugar and devour

Torta 1a

Torta 2a