My husband was born in Sicily and I have been lucky enough to visit this amazing place with him a couple of times. When we visit the cafés they are filled with treats to have with your espresso. They are often dense and rich and use marzipan, a favourite ingredient of mine. When I saw March’s Gourmet Traveller’s cover with Neil Perry’s Rosetta’s Cassata photographed on the front, I knew I must try and make this. It is a recipe with many steps. You will need to start a couple of days before, but well worth the extra effort.  I made it for my husband’s birthday as a celebration of his heritage.

If you have the chance to visit Sicily you must go. It is very different to other parts of Italy. I sensed the Arab influence and many villages are just as they have been for many years. Untouched by “progress”. In the little town where I stayed there is no WiFi anywhere, everything happened at a slower pace. People have computers but they are old and slow. It is a different world running at a slower pace. Here are some photos from my last visit.


A Street in Fiumefreddo Sicily.


There are lady street sweepers.

Here is the recipe from Gourmet Traveller for you  to enjoy. I have included photos of my step by step process. On the Gourmet Traveller web page there is a video you can watch showing you how to make Rosetta’s Cassata too. Mine did not end up looking as perfect as I might have liked it to. It was difficult to get the cake out of the tin and keep the marzipan icing looking perfect. Also I might have over filled the middle with the Ricotta mixture.

Serves 8
Cooking Time Prep time 45 mins, cook 15 mins (plus chilling)

500 gm marzipan
For dusting: pure icing sugar
For brushing: marsala
Few drops green food colouring (see note)
450 gm mixed glacé, candied and dried fruit, such as orange, cedro, amarena cherries, golden raisins and apricots, finely chopped (see note)
Sponge cake
300 gm lightly beaten egg (about 6 eggs)
220 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
250 gm (1 2/3 cups) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Ricotta filling
950 gm firm ricotta
200 gm caster sugar
280 gm goat’s curd
30 gm dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids), finely grated


1 For sponge cake, preheat oven to 160C. Whisk eggs and sugar in an electric mixer on medium speed until thick, pale and tripled in volume. Meanwhile, sift flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. Carefully fold dry ingredients into egg mixture in 3 batches. Spoon into a 24cm x 34cm x 5cm-deep cake tin lined with baking paper, smooth top and bake until sponge is golden and springs back when lightly pressed (20-30 minutes). Cool completely in tin.
2 For ricotta filling, process ricotta and sugar in a food processor until smooth, add goat’s curd, pulse to combine, stir in chocolate, pulse to combine and set aside.
3 Line a 22cm-diameter springform cake tin with plastic wrap, leaving edges hanging over sides, and set aside. Roll out 320gm marzipan to a 35cm-diameter round on a piece of baking paper dusted with icing sugar. Line base and sides of cake tin with marzipan, pressing it into tin and leaving edges hanging over sides.
4 Trim top of sponge level, and trim edges (discard trimmings). Halve sponge horizontally and cut a 22cm-diameter circle from one end of each half. Cut remaining sponge into 4.5cm x 3cm fingers and set aside. Place a sponge round in marzipan-lined tin, trimming to fit if necessary. Line sides with sponge fingers, then brush Marsala all over sponge. Spoon in ricotta mixture, smooth top, place second sponge round on top and brush with Marsala. Trim marzipan, cover cake with plastic wrap, weight with a flat plate that fits in tin, place food cans on top to weight further, and refrigerate to press and chill (overnight).
5 Remove sides of cake tin, invert cassata onto a plate and remove plastic wrap. Add a drop or 2 of food colouring to remaining marzipan to achieve a delicate green, knead well to soften slightly, dusting with icing sugar if required to prevent sticking, then roll out to 35cm x 12cm x 2mm thick on a piece of baking paper dusted with icing sugar. Cut into two 35cm x 6cm strips, then press each piece against sides of cake to form a collar, pressing short edges to seal.
6 Combine chopped fruit in a bowl, scatter over cake, cut into wedges and serve.


This is the sponge cake mixture going into the oven.


This is the sponge placed around the outside of the tin and the bottom of the pan. The marzipan layer is under this.


Now it is filled with the ricotta mixture.


The finished Cassata Cake


And here is your slice.



Note At Rosetta, the outer layer of marzipan is coloured with pistachio paste, available from Chefs’ Warehouse and specialist cake-decorating shops. Cedro is the glacé fruit of the citron tree, available from Simon Johnson
, David Jones food halls and select delicatessens. Amarena cherries are sour cherries; the candied version is available from Simon Johnson (you could subsitute regular glacé cherries).This recipe is from the March 2013 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
Share on Facebook