Sicilian Cream Cake (casata siciliana) from Authentic Italian Recipes
Cassata is a very well known Sicilian cake. Originally a cake for Easter and springtime — the best season for ricotta — it is now found all year round in the pasticceria. I love this slightly over-the-top dessert, loaded with colours and flavours, which is nevertheless easy to make. You’ll find green marzipan at specialist cake-decorating shops, or try mixing plain marzipan with a few drops of green food colouring.
1 hour preparation time
35 minutes cooking time
2 hours refrigeration time
1 genoise (pan di spagna)
For the filling:
- 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) ricotta (preferably sheep’s milk)
- 100 g (3½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 1 pinch vanilla powder
- 70 g (2½ oz) candied citron or orange, diced
- 70 g (2½ oz) dark chocolate (60–70% cocoa), chopped
- 150 g (5½ oz) green marzipan
- 70 ml (2¼ fl oz) dry (fine) Marsala diluted with 70 ml (2¼ fl oz) water
For the decoration:
- 1 egg white
- 150 g (5½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 20 ml (½ fl oz) lemon juice
- 300 g (10½ oz) candied fruit, whole or in quarters (citron, orange, lemon, melon).
Make the genoise according to the recipe. Cut into rectangular strips 1.5 cm ( 5 /8 inch) thick. Push the ricotta through a sieve, into a large bowl, then mix it with the sifted icing sugar, vanilla, diced candied fruit and chopped dark chocolate.
Line a 22–24 cm (8½–9½ inch) round cake tin with plastic wrap. Roll out the marzipan to about a 2 mm ( 1 /16 inch) thickness and cut a strip the same height as the side of the tin. Lay this strip around the inside of the tin. Arrange rectangles of genoise side by side in the base of the tin and brush them with the diluted Marsala to moisten. Cover with the ricotta cream, even out the surface with a spoon and cover with more strips of genoise brushed with Marsala.
Cover the cassata with plastic wrap and place a weight on top, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Unmould onto a serving plate.
Before serving, whisk the egg white in a bowl with the icing sugar and lemon juice. Spread this icing over the cassata. Decorate with wafer-thin slices of candied fruit, sliced using a mandoline or a knife.