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Italian recipe of the week: Strawberry and limoncello tiramisù

This fresh take on a classic tiramisù is perfect for the hot weather. Neapolitan food writer Silvana Lanzetta tells us how it's done

Italian recipe of the week: Strawberry and limoncello tiramisù
A southern Italian take on the classic tiramisù, with strawberries and limoncello. Photo: DepositPhotos

The best way to bring some Italian summer home is to make a strawberry and limoncello tiramisù.

I prefer this to the traditional chocolate and coffee tiramisù for many reasons: one of them is that it reminds me of a cake that my mum used to bake for my birthday. And with the freshness of the fruits, the tanginess of limoncello and the creamy sweetness of the mascarpone, this tiramisù feels like southern Italy – where I come from – much more than the classic one.

READ ALSO: The one dessert you have to try in each of Italy's regions


Photo: DepositPhotos

Try to make it this weekend, to surprise and delight your family or to serve at a party: I guarantee you that you will quickly become very popular. And your guests don’t need to know that it is actually very quick and easy to make – this secret stays between us!

Tips

If you don’t have the time to marinate the strawberries, don’t worry: you can make this tasty tiramisù by squeezing the juice of a couple of lemons and adding it to about 50 g of sugar. Then follow the recipe from here, by adding the water and the limoncello.

A little warning note: this tiramisu contains raw eggs. Please don’t give to small children and older people, as raw eggs have a small risk of carrying salmonella. If in doubt, use powdered eggs.

FOR MEMBERS: From football to tiramisù: A look at Italy's deepest rivalries


Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Ingredients

For the cream:

6 egg yolks (very fresh)
60 g icing sugar
500 g mascarpone
60 g limoncello

For the liqueur:

250 ml strawberry marinade (see recipe)
100 ml water (warm)
12 tbsp limoncello

For the cake:

750 g strawberries
150 ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
400 g savoiardi biscuits (also called ladyfingers or sponge fingers)
100 g caster sugar

 

Method

1. The evening before, prepare the strawberry marinade: wash and cut the strawberries in quarters (keep about 100 g aside to decorate the tiramisù), put them in a bowl together with the sugar and the lemon juice; stir thoroughly to coat all the strawberries well, cover with cling film and put in the fridge to rest overnight.

2. In the morning prepare the cream: beat the mascarpone with a wooden spoon until soft and set aside. Whisk all the egg yolks with 60 g of icing sugar until you obtain a clear and frothy cream (when you lift the whisk, the egg has to form a thick ribbon). Add the limoncello and keep whisking for a few more minutes, then add the mascarpone and beat until smooth and shiny. Cover with cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, strain the strawberries and set them aside. Take 250 ml of the marinade, and pour it in a pot together with the water and 12 tbsps of limoncello. Boil the liqueur for a couple of minutes and then let it cool down.

4. Soak each savoiardi biscuit in the liqueur, and arrange them in a deep rectangular dish. Spread a layer of strawberries over the savoiardi, then cover it all with a layer of cream. Then add another layer of savoiardi, strawberries and cream. Carry on like this until all the ingredients are finished, terminating with a layer of cream.

5. Decorate the top with the strawberries kept aside, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge. Wait at least two hours before serving. Keep the tiramisù refrigerated at all times and consume within 48 hours.


Silvana Lanzetta. Photo: Private

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes and workshops in London.

Find out more at her website, Pastartist.com, including this recipe and others.

This article was originally published in 2019.

 

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DISCOVER ITALY

Why some of Italy’s food festivals are ‘fake’ – and how to pick the best ones

Italy's countless sagre, or food fairs, are an autumn highlight. But how do you find the best events - and avoid the more commercial ones? Reporter Silvia Marchetti explains.

Why some of Italy’s food festivals are 'fake' - and how to pick the best ones

Italy’s renowned food fairs are one of the most exciting events during autumn and winter, particularly the coldest months when we’re looking for culinary weekend distractions. 

For the uninitiated, sagre are key gourmand exhibitions mixing local food, premium products, cheeses and olive oil – all the ‘excellences’ of the area – but lately I find some are just, well, fake. 

READ ALSO: The best Italian food festivals to visit in October

Instead of selling traditional indigenous delicacies, vendors sell a little bit of everything which they think appeals to foreigners and city people desperate for a rural break. 

Last weekend I went to the sagra at Osteria Nuova, near Passo Corese in Lazio, and found mozzarella from Naples and limoncello from Amalfi: now what do those have to do with the Rieti countryside?

It was sad and disappointing. Even though it takes place in an area which is famous at this time of the year for exquisite porcini mushrooms and chestnuts there was not even one single vendor selling these. Instead, there was codfish from Venice and porchetta from the Castelli Romani.

Up until a few years ago the Osteria Nuova food fair was very genuine and appealing: it was actually a real farmers’ market where animals were sold: not just rabbits and hens but cows, horses and donkeys. It was a vibrant event. 

Now the cages that once kept the animals are empty. And people just go there to stuff themselves with huge sandwiches and hotdogs. It’s always hell finding a parking spot because the fair is very close to Rome, luring day trippers on a ‘scampagnata’.

Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

My advice is to avoid visiting food fairs which are too close to big cities and towns, but pick offbeat villages or unknown rural spots where the sagre are small and with local producers selling authentic, ‘indigenous’ products. Choosing the remote hillsides, where traditions tend to survive, is of course better than the touristy areas. 

READ ALSO: Seven reasons autumn is the best time to visit Italy

Also, it’s best if the food fair is not too heavily sponsored or advertised in national newspapers. The best thing to do is search online for all food fairs in the area you plan to visit during the weekend or even during the week, and ask friends and locals as word of mouth can often be more reliable. 

Among the authentic sagre I would recommend the porcini mushroom food fair in San Martino al Cimino in the pristine hills of the Tuscia countryside in Lazio, where the woods are dotted with porcini. 

At the fair not only bags of huge porcini are sold but you can also buy a lunch ticket and taste various mushroom dishes sitting down at wooden tables. Last time I was served a delicious potato and porcini soup which inspired me to replicate (successfully) the recipe at home. 

However, the best thing is to search for the weird and unknown – food fairs with funny names and showcasing products that sound and look really bizarre. So forget about the usual truffles, mozzarella, limoncello, ham and pasta-filled events. I suggest opting for quirky food festivals in never-heard-of-before villages where the culinary adventure comes with a cultural jolt. 

Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

When I hear about something amazingly off-the-wall and tasty, with a particular story or legend behind it, my curiosity and taste buds tingle.

Last weekend I was surfing the web and came across the Ciammellocco festival in the tiny hamlet of Cretone, Lazio, which immediately aroused my curiosity. 

READ ALSO: 14 reasons why Lazio should be your next Italian holiday destination

As I had never heard of it before, I jumped in the car the following day and ventured out to an isolated woody area with a few small dwellings, where one single bakery makes this huge, funny-sounding, highly-nutritious sweet-salty doughnut with fennel seeds which has been around since at least the middle ages. Housewives used to make it for their husbands as a substitute for lunch when they went off working in the fields. 

Even though I have tasted similar ciambelle in my life none come close to ciammellocco, crunchy and tender at the same time, made with eggs but light.

Next I heard about the Sagra della Papera in Carassai, Marche region, offering succulent duck meat dishes with pappardelle pasta and roasted duck breasts, and given duck isn’t something you’d normally find in Italian restaurants, it makes the cut for authentic food events. 

Vegetarians can’t miss the Festival degli Orapi in the village of Picinisco north of Naples where guests are treated to platefuls of a unique, delicious spinach variety which is made exquisite by the fact that it grows beneath goat poo, a natural fertilizer. Locals actually roam the countryside with a knife to scrape away the poo and extract the orapi.

In Pedagaggi, Sicily, local housewives organize the Sagra della mostarda di fichi d’india, with gourmet dishes made from exotic-looking prickly pear mustards. 

READ ALSO: ‘La scampagnata’: What it is and how to do it the Italian way

Other curious sagre include the Festa del Gorgonzola set in the town of Gorgonzola in Lombardy which is the real birthplace of Italy’s iconic blue cheese. Huge pentoloni of steaming pots of gorgonzola in the middle of the piazza lure pungent cheese addicts. 

Also Diamante’s festival del peperoncino in Calabria is a must stop for lovers of strong, authentic hot dishes spiced up with chili peppers (there’s even a peperoncini eating marathon).

Real sagre tend to showcase one premium native product rather than a myriad with overlapping origins.

The more ‘local’ you dive into the deepest, remote corners of Italy full of tradition and folklore, the more genuine the sagra and the more satisfying the gastronomical experience.

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