The pudding is a typical dessert of the Campania region where the tradition is to make it only for Carnival, specifically Shrove Tuesday. Each family has its own recipe. This is a very simple dish, made with natural ingredients which are readily available. One of the secrets to success with this cake is the quality of the ricotta, which might seem an optional ingredient but in reality it is essential to give the dessert softness and the correct texture, whilst the semolina provides gives the sweetness that makes it special. The pudding is prepared by cooking the semolina in sweetened milk, and then combining the eggs, cottage cheese, vanilla, butter and lemon fragrance (or orange, depending on your taste and the recipe). It is a kind of baked ‘custard’. Its simplicity will captivate although it was made with whatever was available in the pantry, hence the more elaborate versions which include the addition of raisins, pine nuts or candied fruit, and basic versions without cheese or even simply salted.
Prepare all the ingredients. Grate the lemon zest. Put the water, milk and lemon zest into a saucepan. Warm until boiling point, then remove from heat and pour in the semolina. Return to the heat and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the butter and let cool. Mix the ricotta with a whole egg and 3 egg yolks. Combine with the Limoncello, vanilla essence and mix well, removing any lumps. Combine the ricotta mixture with the semolina in a large bowl. Gently add the beaten egg whites and fold them in gently. Place the mixture into a buttered and floured baking tray with low sides. Bake at 180 °C for about 40 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven, let it cool completely, tip out of the baking tray, and sprinkle with icing sugar.