Sicilian Cheese Cake/Cassata Recipe by I (2024)

have eaten this cake since my earliest childhood recollections. All major occasions seem to call for this cake, a wedding, a funeral, major holidays, any Sunday...Any excuse to reach for this very rich dessert.

The variation of this cake seems to be as varied as there are bakers in this world. This one is my adaptation!
Less heavy, more versatile.
I omitted the candied fruit as there are so many people that have an aversion for it. Personally I am not a fan of candied fruit either. Most people push the fruit to the side of the dish as they pick the rich cheese cake with a fork and carry it to their mouth with expectation. But a little decorative touch with candied fruit, on top of the cake will make it more attractive.

Almost 30 years ago, I put together my wedding within one month.
I originally wanted to have a small unpretentious wedding and invite only immediate family to a restaurant reception.
My brother Pippo who lives in Rome, arrived 1 month prior to the wedding. I never suspected his reasons for early arrival. But as soon as he arrived we started shopping preparing for the wedding and day by day he convinced me to have a wedding at my parents home on the lake. We prepped the house with new upholstery. We cleaned the grounds and planted new flowers. We stocked the auxiliary freezer with fish, shellfish, meats, etc...We ordered flowers, and bought champagne and liquor. My mother-in-law hand made my 1960's short wedding dress. I had the invitations printed for 125 people, I prepared the favors copied from one I had seen at Perugina. We found a DJ to play the music, rented the tents and party supplies for the guests. My brother found one of his fashion photographers to take the pictures and I went hunting for the cake.
I really did not want just a regular wedding cake, so I searched for a Sicilian baker that had quite a reputation and asked him to make me a cake with ricotta cheese and rum. I gave him directions, chose the tiers and look of the cake I wanted, paid a pretty penny for it and left, never seeing the gentleman again until the day of the wedding.

On the night before the wedding the whole family cooked all the food for the reception. Baked pasta, breads, seafood, fish, meats, salads, vegetables. No one slept until early morning for a few hours until it was time to start setting up for the ceremony and the reception and then get ready for the wedding. My mother tells me she never even got tired that day, the adrenalin and happiness of her first daughter getting married gave her the energy.
The day of the wedding it poured rain like in a monsoon. We were short on flowers so we went out to purchase more. My dress I picked up from the cleaners and the counter girl could not find it. I panicked went home and waited for them to call me. When it was found it had a large yellow stain in the middle of my legs. I was devastated but it was a good thing it was hidden by the tulle skirt.
The bouquet I ordered from the florist arrived, but did not look like the one I ordered.
The cake also arrived but I was sure they had made a delivery mistake, it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen, not at all what I had asked for, it had hideous live size plastic doves on top. What had happened to my bride and groom?

By the time I settled down to the realization that everything was going wrong, it was time for the ceremony. I took a quick shower put my dress on, that was slipping off of me for having lost 20 pounds during the one month preparation, held it in place with my armpits and ran downstairs with my hair wet. Someone put my veil on and I stepped out to meet my husband to be, among a crowd of onlookers.

I remember being asked if I would take this person as my lawfully wedded husband and I became hysterically nervous within my brain. "If I say yes to this commitment I will be this man's wife for the rest of my life, what do I do? Think, quick think" Then I thought back to the two years I had known him and that I had rationally made that decision prior to this day, so I said "Yes" and calmed down.

For many years after my wedding everyone remembered that wedding as the most fun wedding, they ever attended. They raved about the food, the liquor, the grounds, the dancing, the cake. I had worried about details that no one else seemed to care about.

Today I think back on that day when my brother arrived one month in advance, I thought of it as odd, but never questioned why he had arrived so early. I suspect though my parents had something to do with it, and since they had given up trying to convince me that they wanted to celebrate my day in a big way, they put my brother up to it, to be their accomplice. He played his part so well I never imagined it was a family plot.

Today I’m glad it happened that way. It showed me the strength of the family bond and the love and support of my family. That day I gave my parents the gift of celebration, they gave me a wonderful memory, and 30 years later, I don't regret my decision of having said "Yes".

Sicilian Cheese Cake/Cassata Recipe by I (2024)


What is cassata siciliana made of? ›

Cassata is typically composed of a round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese and candied fruit (a filling also used with cannoli). Cassata has a shell of marzipan, pink and green coloured icing, and decorative designs.

Which ingredients are in addition to a sugar and almond glaze Cassata the queen of Sicilian desserts? ›

The Cassata Siciliana is a traditional pie based on sugared ricotta (traditionally sheep), sponge cake, royal pasta, and candied fruit.

What flavors are in Cassata? ›

But where there's ice cream, there are no rules 🙂 Go ahead and pick your favourite flavours to go into your cassata cake. Some flavours that work well are - pistachio, vanilla, strawberry, mango, and even chocolate!

What is the difference between ice cream and Cassata? ›

The original Cassata though is a very different animal. It is Italian and it has no ice-cream in it at all. The only similarity is that it is moulded and cut into wedges for serving. It consists of layers of espresso-drenched sponge cake with sweet ricotta filling placed into a round mould lined with almond paste.

What is the English translation of Cassata? ›

Cassata is a traditional Sicilian dessert: a round sponge cake filled with sweetened ricotta mixed with liqueur, chocolate chips and candied fruit, then iced and decorated with candied fruit and almond paste.

Why is it called cassata cake? ›

However, it is claimed that the first cake may have just originated as a ricotta cheesecake, and was simply made with egg and sugar. However, Cassata takes its name from the Arab word quas'at, or qas'at, which refers to a wide bowl used to bake the cake.

How long is cassata cake good for? ›

A traditional Sicilian sweet treat. Cassata cakes are round sponge cakes moistened with fruit juices and layered in ricotta cheese & candied fruit, all held together in a beautiful design. Each cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days (preferably in an airtight container) or frozen for up to 6 months.

What desserts originated in Sicily? ›

It's only fitting that most of our beloved Italian desserts originated in Sicily. Cannoli— that was the Sicilians. Granita—the Sicilians. Cassata, cassatelle, almond biscotti, zbaglione—all thanks to the Sicilians.

In which country is cassata both a type of ice cream and a traditional sweet cake? ›

Traditional cassata cake, as it's made in Italy, is nothing like the version found in the United States. Although both are delicious, the original Sicilian cake has ingredients like marzipan on the outside and candied fruit in the filling.

What is spumoni cassata? ›

Cassata. A “dressed-up” spumoni: the same gelato flavors and whipped cream, with a layer of cake and morsels of candied fruit.

What is the difference between spumoni and cassata? ›

Here's a fun fact about this dessert: Cassata is the traditional name for spumoni.

Why is cassata famous? ›

One of Sicily's most famous sweets, it's origins date back to Arab occupation in the 10th century AD, whose influences remain in Sicily's food and culture today. The Cassata is a Sicilian sweet delicacy, a round cake with sloped edges and a layer of sponge protecting the sweetened fresh, new season ricotta cheese.

What is the most popular ice cream in the world? ›

While vanilla has reigned supreme as the world's favorite ice cream flavor for many years, a new report from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) shows that it may be at risk of losing that position soon. So what other flavors rounded out the list?

What are the 2 different Italian ice creams called? ›

First Things First: The Two Main Groups

So, strictly speaking, we can define Gelati (see footnotes) as Italian ice cream made with a milk base. Known in English as Sorbet, we could define it simply as water based Gelato, in other words, Italian ice cream made without the addition of milk and cream.

What is Sicilian Cassata ice cream? ›

Sicilian cassata ice cream, a very fresh gealto, greedy, with candied, pistachios, chocolate and a soft heart of sponge cake soaked by Alchermes.

What is a typical Sicilian cake? ›

Sicilian Cassata cake packs some of the island's quintessential flavors in one irresistible treat. Beneath the pale green, candied fruit-topped marzipan exterior lies a liqueur-soaked sponge cake with sweet chocolate-chip-studded ricotta.

How does cassata taste like? ›

Sweet but not over the top, the American version of this wonderful cake is also decorated with strawberries, which give some freshness and tang to the sweet cake. Cassata's origin is attributed to the Arabic rule in Sicily starting in the 10th century, but theories conflict.

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