Cassata al Forno

Sicilian Baked Cassata

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    servings

Appears in

Though this is similar to Pizza di Ricotta alla Grottese, it is really a version of Cassata alla Siciliana in which pastry dough substitutes for the pan di spagna, or sponge cake lining. In Sicily, where the ricotta is very firm, the filling is usually prepared without eggs. Here I like to add some egg whites only, for firmness but no added richness.

This version is a re-creation of one I enjoyed at the Charleston Restaurant in Mondello, Palermo’s seaside resort.

Ingredients

    Pasta Frolla

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons milk or water

    Ricotta Filling

  • 1 pound whole-milk ricotta, commercial or homemade
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons candied orange peel, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

For the pasta frolla, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Rub in the butter until it is absorbed, making sure the mixture remains cool and powdery and does not become pasty. Beat the egg with the milk or water and stir in with a fork. Continue stirring until the dough holds together, then knead it briefly, just until smooth. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until firm.

For the ricotta filling, press the ricotta through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl or puree it in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Stir in the sugar, then the egg whites, one at a time. Stir in the remaining filling ingredients.

Butter a 9-inch cake pan that is 2 inches deep. To assemble, cut off one-third of the pasta frolla and reserve it. Roll out the rest of the dough into a 14-inch disk and line the prepared pan with it. Allow the dough to hang over the edge of the pan. Pour in the filling.

Roll the reserved dough into a 9-inch disk. Place the disk of dough on top of the filling and loosen the top edge of the bottom crust from the side of the pan with a thin knife. Fold the edge of the bottom crust over the top crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set and the pastry is a light gold. Cool in the pan before unmolding. To unmold, invert onto a platter and lift off the pan. Dust with the confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Serve the cassata at room temperature.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

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