Neapolitan semolina and ricotta cake (Migliaccio)

A staple during Naples’ Carnival festivities, migliaccio is the region’s rustic semolina and lemon cake which is made

Rich and Moist with the Ricotta.


Serves 10 Preparation 20min Cooking 1hr 15 min


  • 3 oranges
  • 3 lemons
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 40 g (1.5oz) butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 200 g (7oz) durum wheat semola (fine semolina)
  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 350 g (12oz)well-drained ricotta
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 2 hours

1. Using a wide vegetable peeler, remove the rind from 2 of the oranges and lemons. Using a small sharp knife, remove any of the bitter white pith. Place the milk and 500 ml (2 cups) water in a large saucepan along with the citrus peel, butter and vanilla seeds and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the semola and whisk for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is thick and smooth (a few lumps are okay as they will dissolve in the batter). Spread the mixture over a shallow tray and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the citrus peel.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20 cm square cake tin and line with baking paper, leaving the sides overhanging.

3. Finely grate the rind from the remaining orange and lemon. Whisk the sugar and eggs in a large bowl until pale and fluffy (you can use an electric whisk, if you have one). Add the ricotta and beat until smooth. Add the cooled semola mixture along with the finely grate zest and whisk until well combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour. The surface will crack a little, creating its characteristic pattern and the middle will feel jiggly (like a cheesecake). Remove from the oven and stand in the tin to cool for at least 1 hour. As it cools down it will flatten slightly.

4. To serve, dust with icing sugar and cut into small pieces. It keeps really well at room temperature for a few days (it’s actually better the next day) and in the fridge although the texture will change slightly. Tightly wrapped it freezes well too.

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