Sicilian Cassata is of Arab origin and the word “Cassata” comes from the special dish the Arab people used to cook it in, called the “qas’at”. Long ago, the church banned Cassata precisely because it was of Arab origin, until a pope, I can't remember who, Clement the third or fourth, tried it. From that moment, everyone was allowed to eat it, because it's delicious. The real Sicilian Cassata recipe uses marzipan, made from almond paste, rolled out and placed over the top of sponge cake.Gabriella’s mother used to prepare Cassata at Easter, and seeing as everyone liked it she also prepared it at Christmas and for birthdays.
For the sponge cake: Put the eggs and sugar into a bowl. Whisk, first by hand and then with a mixer. When the eggs are whipped well add the flour, a little at a time, until you have a smooth mixture. Then you can add the yeast dissolved in half a glass of water, and mix everything gently together. Put the mixture in the greased dish and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. While the sponge cake is baking, stir together the ricotta and sugar in equal quantities until the mixture is creamy. Add the chocolate chips.
Once the sponge cake is ready, leave it to cool and cut it in half. Put the water and maraschino into a glass and soak the sponge with a brush, on both sides. Once you've done this, you can spread the ricotta over it, place the other half of the cake on top and add more ricotta until the sponge is completely covered.Decorate with some cherries or orange peel.At this point, the cassata should be put into the refrigerator to set.
The cassata can also be prepared with a layer of marzipan. The ingredients are: Icing sugar 175 g Peeled almonds 175 g A few spoonfuls of water