Sicilian Cheese Cake/Cassata Recipe

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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".

Prep time:
Cook time:
Servings: 12-14


Cost per serving $1.54 view details


  1. Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
  3. Line 1 nine inch round layer pan with parchment paper.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl
  5. Beat the egg yolks together on high speed until very thick, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  7. Add 1-1/4 cups of the white sugar, slowly, beat for about 3 minutes.
  8. Add the vanilla.
  9. Fold the flour mixture and the egg yolk mixture into each other, set aside.
  10. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
  11. Fold this mixture into the yolk and flour mixture.
  12. Pour batter in the pan.
  13. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted in the cake comes out clean
  14. Cool completely.
  15. Rum Syrup
  16. Place 1/3 cup of the sugar and the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil 1 minute and then remove from heat and add the rum.
  17. Cool to room temperature.
  18. Ricotta Cheese Filling
  19. Beat the ricotta cheese well and add the confectioner's sugar.
  20. Add the chocolate.
  21. Chill until ready to use.
  22. Sugar Frosting for topping
  23. This is to be prepared the next day, and applied right away.
  24. In a saucepan combine confectioners sugar and water. Cook on low heat stirring constantly, until heated and bubbles appear. Mixture should be thin enough to pour and thick enough to coat cake.
  25. When done let it cool enough to the touch.
  26. Add the grind of lemon or lime and stir.
  27. Assembly
  28. Cut cake layers into 4 round disks
  29. Place first layer on a cake dish
  30. Sprinkle the first layer with 1/4 of the Rum Syrup
  31. Spread 1/3 of the Filling over the first layer.
  32. Add a second layer of cake and repeat the procedure.
  33. Top the cake with the last layer of cake and Rum Syrup
  34. Chill overnight.
  35. Next day pour Sugar Frosting onto cake from the center. It will run though the sides, unevenly, but that’s the look.
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Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving %DV
Serving Size 230g
Recipe makes 12 servings
Calories 589  
Calories from Fat 148 25%
Total Fat 17.03g 21%
Saturated Fat 9.97g 40%
Trans Fat 0.0g  
Cholesterol 116mg 39%
Sodium 223mg 9%
Potassium 231mg 7%
Total Carbs 96.72g 26%
Dietary Fiber 2.0g 7%
Sugars 74.6g 50%
Protein 13.7g 22%



  • Claudia lamascolo
    April 3, 2010
    oh my this is wonderful and making me want to get in the kitchen and make this right now!!! a work of art~ by the way this was a heartwarming wonderful happy ending story that I absolutely loved congrats on your 30 year marriage, thats alot to be proud of along with this loving family memory they gave you.....Buona Pasqua...I truly enjoyed this entry :)
    • Patricia Turo
      May 21, 2010
      I love this and it is one of my favorite cakes. Will try your version.
      I've cooked/tasted this recipe!


      • Niko
        March 14, 2012
        What a wonderful story about your wedding day! Thank you for sharing this recipe and your memories.
        1 reply
        • I Sicilian
          March 14, 2012
          Thanks Niko, Sometimes I wonder if anyone really reads the stories attached to my recipes. I appreciate that you let me know.
        • I Sicilian
          May 21, 2010
          Thanks, I have a great dessert coming up for those who love chocolate

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