Cassata Siciliana

 

At one time when the cassata was sold by the size, they were made light, not too sweet, with its unique flavor that was a joy to taste.
Now that the commercial cassata is sold by the pound, sugar is used freely to make them heavier, therefore more expensive; the sponge is moistened, taking away from the taste of the ricotta cream, and increasing the weight. A heavy covering of confectionary sugar coating is used, making the cassata not only super rich and sweet, but also heavier and more costly.
Our recipe is well balanced: the ricotta is amiable and not too sugary, however fragrant and sweet-smelling, and the sugar in the savory glace is offset by the tartness of the lemon juice. 

To make the sponge, use your recipe or our Pan di Spagna recipe or buy it already made.  

Making the cassata is worth all the efforts: if the preparation is spaced out, it will be an accomplishment that will give you an outstanding and incredibly delicious Easter cake.  

A special 9" round mold is used, with the side 2 ½ inches high, inclined to the outside about 15 degrees, thus that particular and characteristic shape; or use a regular 10" round mold to built the cassata

 

Serves 8 to 10

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake 

 

  • 1 ½ lb. Pan di Spagna, a sponge cake made without fat.  
  • 2 lb. of ricotta  
  • 1 cup of sugar  
  • zest of 1 orange  
  • 2 drops of cinnamon oil or 3 pinches of cinnamon powder  
  • 1 drop of vanilla essence  
  • ¼ lb. diced candied citron  
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips or bitter-chocolate shavings  
  • 4 oz. marzipan tinted green with food coloring (optional) 
  • Special cassata mold or a 10” round (2” deep)  

 

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup confectionary sugar  
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice  
  • zest of 1 medium lemon  
  • 1 tablespoon of butter  

 

For the Decorations

  • candied whole fruits  
  • 12 candied cherries  

 

PREPARATION 

 

The Cake
Ahead of time, in a large bowl, mix well the ricotta and sugar until smooth. Blend in the zest of orange, cinnamon and the vanilla, store in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Next prepare the mold by lining it with a film of plastic wrap, extending it a few inches over the side.
Mix the ricotta cream with a wooden spoon to aerate and make it silky-smooth.

Lay down the sponge on the cutting board and with a sharp serrated knife cut into slices ½ inch thick.

To prepare the green marzipan, dust a flat surface with powdered sugar; roll out the marzipan and make a strip about a 1/4 inch thick, to cover the side of the mold. Trim the edge and apply a thin layer of ricotta cream to make sponge stick on to it.

Line the bottom and side of the mold with sponge.

                                          


 

Spread 1/2 of ricotta cream over the sponge, sprinkle half of the citron and chocolate chips or shavings.
Repeat as above with sponge, cream, citron, chocolate and finishing the last layer with the sponge cake.
Store overnight in the refrigerator.

 

The Glaze
Mix all the ingredients in a heat resistant bowl and beat to form a thick and uniform paste. Cook it in a double boiler, turning continuously, until smooth and soft.

 

The Cassata
Place a dish or a cardboard on top of the mold and turn the cake upside down, carefully removing the mold and the plastic wrap.


Pour some glaze over the top of the cassata and with a spatula spread it into a thin layer to cover completely the top.  

Let the extra glaze overflow on the side and spread to totally cover the cake: if needed, pick up more glaze with the help of a spatula, a little at a time, to entirely coat the side.

Decorate with candied fruits, placing a whole fruit in the center of the cassata, make a crown all around with candied cherries and cut some fruits in four pieces and display using your imagination.

 

 Variation:

You can make the cassata in layers with sponge and ricotta cream filling; let it rest overnight in the refrigerator and the next day, cover it completely with a thin layer of green marzipan, as for the following illustration.

 

Cassata con pasta reale