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Torta di semifreddo del limone

Servings: 8-10
What is a Semifreddo?

Semifreddi are typical Italian desserts. They are prepared with an egg-based custard and whipped cream. No ice-cream machine is needed to make semifreddi; the basic mixture can be poured directly into the mold and put in the freezer for a few hours. Chilled creams may be used as filling for cassate and bombe and also for torta's, or can be prepared with fruits, syrups, chocolate, etc. Semifreddo can also be called spumone. All semifreddi or spumone may be served with an appropriate sauce. These range from a simple fruit sauce to a vanilla cream.

Sponge Cake:
3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/3 cup (75 mL) cold water
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla
1 cup Plus 2 tbsp. (280 mL) cake flour
1/2 tsp. (3 mL) baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. (10 mL) finely grated lemon peel

2/3 cup (150 mL) fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp. (8 mL) unflavoured gelatin
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp. (5 mL) finely grated lemon peel
1-1/4 cup (310 mL) whipping cream
Freshly grated lemon peel, for garnish
Raspberry sauce (optional)

To Prepare the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter bottoms of two 9-inch (23 cm) cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, whip together egg yolks and water for 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low and add sugar and vanilla. Increase mixer speed to high and continue beating 5 minutes or until a ribbon forms when the beaters are lifted. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Meanwhile, in another large bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks when beaters are lifted. Gently fold flour mixture and lemon peel into egg yolks, until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in egg whites until well incorporated. The batter should remain light and airy. Pour batter into prepared pans and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until tops are brown and spring back when lightly touched. Allow cakes to cool in pans 5 minutes. Invert cooled cakes onto a cooling rack, peel off the parchment and allow to cool completely.

Make the Filling:
In a small saucepan, warm lemon juice and gelatin together over low heat until gelatin is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar until mixture is smooth and lemon colored, about 3 minutes. In another large bowl, beat egg whites, gradually adding remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar. Fold warm lemon mixture and lemon peel into beaten egg yolks. Thoroughly blend a large spoonful of the beaten whites into the lemon and egg yolks to lighten. Whip cream until soft peaks form, then gently fold remaining egg whites and cream into the mousse, allowing a few visible streaks of white throughout.

To Assemble the Semifreddo:
Place a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan, without the base, directly onto a flat serving plate. This will serve as the mould. Firmly press down on one cake layer to flatten it, and place it into the pan on the plate. Pour half the mousse over the cake, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Firmly press down on the second cake to flatten it, and place it into the pan over the mousse. Pour remaining mousse over cake (it should reach the very top of the pan). Place cake, uncovered, in the freezer for 1 hour and then cover cake well with plastic wrap and continue to freeze at least 4 hours, or overnight. The cake will freeze, but softens up very quickly once removed from the freezer. To serve, remove cake from the freezer and remove the springform pan. Garnish with freshly grated lemon peel. Serve with a raspberry sauce, if desired.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Date: May 5, 2004