Ricotta Cake

(“Torta di Ricotta”-“Dolce ri Ricuotta”)


                         Torta di Ricotta 


One of my family preferred torte   (cake) is the bakedcassata. In Palermo, it can be bought in pastry shops,le dolcerie where it is made around the holidays or can be baked at home without too many difficulties.
Mr. Lombardo baked this cake for us to celebrate our family’s special occasions. Mr. Lombardo, a master baker and a family’s friend, worked at Dagnino, one of the most respected bakery and pastry shop in Palermo.
I used this simple and tasty recipe with success, when I was the owner of La Rinascente Pastry Shop, downtown Brooklyn, NY.

The recipe may look complicated but once you undertake the baking of this cake, you will find it is an easy and simple task, with rewarding and very delicious results. A slice of cassata   can be part of a special breakfast, it can be served as a snack or after dinner with an espresso   coffee or abicchierino, a glass of Marsala wine or rosolio.


SERVES 10 TO 12 



The Crust

  • 4 cups flour 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 cups of unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks) 
  • 2 medium eggs 
  • 3 yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of honey 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • Flour for dusting 


The Filling

  • 3 cups ricotta (1 ½ lb.) 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate shavings or chips 
  • 2 tablespoons of diced citron or assorted diced candied fruits 
  • Zest of 1 orange 
  • Pinch of cinnamon 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 2 cups of crumbled sponge cake (store bought) 


To Finish

  • 1 egg beaten to egg wash for the baking 
  • Powder sugar and cinnamon powder for dusting 

The Filling

Mix well all the filling’s ingredients, except the sponge cake crumbs.


The Dough

Mound flour on a flat surface and form a well. Add the butter, sugar, honey, baking powder, salt and lemon zest: using your hands mix and blend all ingredients. Add eggs knead and bring dough together to forms it into a ball.
If the dough is to dry, add a few drops of water to moisten it.
Fold and press with the palm of your hands; if dough is sticky, add some more flour.
When dough forms into a single mass, set aside and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
Do not over mix. Do not handle dough more than necessary.
Clean your hands and the working surface and discard scraps.


The Cassata

Prepare a 10 inch round pan (use a springs pan if available) coat sides and bottom with butter.
Retrieve dough from refrigerator, dust the working surface with flour and divide it in two pieces. With the help of a rolling pin, flatten one piece of dough into a round big enough to cover the bottom and side of the pan (about 15 inches); the dough does not have to be perfectly smooth.
Place 1 cup of the sponge cake crumbs into the pan lined with dough and top them with the ricotta filling. Spread the filling and cover with remaining sponge cake crumbs.
Dust the working surface with flour and flatten the remaining dough using the rolling pin. Shape it into a round to cover the cassata   and pinch the edges together. 
Egg wash the cassata   and make three slits on the top to let vapor escape.


The Baking

Preheat oven at 375 degrees. 
To ensure that the bottom of the cassata is well baked, place it close to the lowest level of the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack or continue baking until cake is cooked.
Cool at room temperature and before serving sprinkle it with a light dust of powdered sugar and cinnamon.



Photo courtesy of Mrs.Christine Zinna formally of Staten Island, now in Stockton California.