There is something so relaxing about baking. It might be the kneading or the humming of the mixer, maybe even the aromas emanating from the oven. Whatever it may be, I love baking. It brings me back to the days where everything was carefree and the counting of calories didn’t truly matter. Memories start running through my mind, and one in particular, is when we were in Italy – in Campagna to be exact. My aunt has a “L’orto” an orchard of sorts. There they grow cactus pears, figs, lemons, olives (they make their own olive oil!), and so many other fruits and veggies. Everything is organic too! Back to my memory.
So that Summer, I was in Campagna with my Zias, Zios, Nonna, and mom, and my Zia went over to the lemon trees and picked ten perfectly ripened limoni. They were as yellow as the sun and bigger than my hand! As she picked them, she announced loudly and proudly, “Oggi faciamo la torta di limone!” (Translation – “Today we’ll make a lemon cake!” At first, I didn’t think anything of it, but then I realized that the only oven we had in campagna was the brick oven. In my 20 year-old mind, I knew then that this was going to be an experience I would never forget!
I can still remember the sweet and citrus aroma of the lemon being zested and juiced, the pungent scent of the thyme and rosemary being ripped from its sprigs, and the smoke being risen from the brick oven, as it was being prepared for this sweet and savory dessert. It was like stepping back into time watching these women, in a line working away to make this torta, something primal even.
I remember my Nonna, telling me to pay attention because one day I’ll be making it too. I’m so glad I did, and I’m so happy to be able to bring it to all of you!
- 120 grams of cake flour or "00" flour this equals to 1/2 cup plus 1 TBSP
- 120 grams white granulated sugar (1 cup plus 1 TBSP)
- 4 extra large eggs, at room temperature - seaparated (You can also use 7 large eggs at room temperature)
- 1 TBSP Grated Lemon Zest
- Juice of One Lemon
- 1 TBSP Semi Di Sesamo (Sesame Seeds) - divided
- 1 TBSP Fresh Rosemary (chopped roughly)
- 1 TBSP Fresh Thyme (chopped roughly)
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil (NOT EXTRA VIRGIN)
- Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
- In 2 large bowls separate the egg yolks and the egg whites - set the whites aside for now
- Add the sugar to the yolks and cream them. It should become light in color and fluffy - set aside
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside
- Sift the flour into the creamed sugar and mix until fully combined
- Add the lemon juice, zest, rosemary, thyme, half of the sesaand olive oil. Mix until fully combined
- Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter stir slowly to incorporate
- Slowly FOLD in the remaining egg white until fully incorporated
- Pour batter into a loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes
- Remove pan from oven and top with remaining sesame seeds and lemon slices to decorate
- Return pan to oven and finish baking for the 10 minutes or until a cake test comes out clean
- Remove torta from oven and allow to cool completely, serve with panna, lemon tea, or coffee!
This torta would also make a perfect dessert for Easter dinner. Even during lent it’s perfect because while it seems indulgent, it really isn’t. I hope you and tutta la famiglia enjoy this cake!
From my family to yours – Buon Appetito!