(photo by: © 2010 by Joshua Cogan)
yield: One 9-inch layer cake
I grew up outside Cleveland, Ohio, and the cassata is the cake of my childhood. This regional specialty is a great example of how recipes take on local styles over time. Some food historians believe the cassata has its roots in fourteenth-century Arab culture. In Sicily, the long-ago homeland of the immigrants who first brought it to America, the cassata often contains candied citrus fruits, citrus liqueurs, and a glazing of chocolate or almond marzipan.
The version of the cassata cake that I grew up with was quite different: a strawberry-and-whipped-cream-clad yellow sponge cake with a ricotta cheese filling. My childhood memory of the cake is that there were always leftovers that—thankfully—lasted for days. Flavorful and moist, that final piece of cake just fell apart in your mouth.