Original Sicilian Cassata Cake – “quas at”

Original Sicilian Cassata Cake - "quas at"

The recipe that I will show you today is the Original Sicilian Cassata Cake, still used in Palermo, but I am making it without the candied fruit and marzipan.

A short-crust cake made with the cream of sweetened sheep’s ricotta, and dark chocolate drops. Cooked in an oven at 200 degrees for half an hour and, if you want, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Original Sicilian Cassata Cake - "quas at"

In Italy, for Easter, it is used to represent the Easter Dove.

And the children, at last, eat the big Easter chocolate egg.

In Sicily we have the tradition of eating cassata at Easter, in fact in the 1500’s, it was elected as an official dessert during Easter. Some Sicilian nuns teased people and called them names like “tintu” which means “petty people” if they did not eat cassata on Easter morning.

The name Cassata derives from the Arabic name “quas at”, which means bowl, introduced by the Arabs in Palermo in the tenth century, when a shepherd decided to mix sheep’s ricotta with honey in a bowl. Subsequently, at the court of the emir of Palermo in Piazza Kalsa, the chefs decided to wrap the dough in a short pastry and bake in the oven. Thus, the oven baked Cassata was born, the most ancient version of this cake.

Original Sicilian Cassata Cake - "quas at"

But in 1873 the great confectioner from Palermo, Salvatore Gulì, recreated it to the now popular and modern version of the Cassata, with candied fruit and marzipan, pictured in this photo kindly taken by tannur.foodblog.

Original Sicilian Cassata Cake - "quas at"

Original Sicilian Cassata Cake – “quas at”

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Resting Time10 hrs
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cannoli filling, cassata siciliana, ricotta cream, sicilian cake
Servings: 6


Shorty Pastry

  • 360 g flour 00 12.7 oz
  • 200 g butter 7 oz
  • 130 g sugar 4.6 oz
  • 4 yolks
  • 1 grated lemon peel
  • 1 pinch of salt

Ricotta Cream

  • 700 g sheep's ricotta 24.7 oz
  • 250 g powdered sugar 2 cups
  • 100 g chopped dark chocolate 3.5 oz


Shorty Pastry

  • Put the flour in a bowl, add the butter, the sugar and the
    grated rind and the salt.
  • With your hands work the ingredients until it appears like fine bread crumbs..
  • Add the egg yolks and quickly mix all ingredients to obtain a homogeneous mixture
    and, forming a smooth paste.
  • Wrap it in the film and put it to rest for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Ricotta Cream

  • Sift the ricotta (drained overnight) and work with the icing sugar.
  • Add the chocolate, chopped into not too small pieces. Put it to rest in the fridge.


  • Remove the pastry from the fridge, divide it in two, work onepiece with a rolling pin to form a 1/2 cm (0.2 inch) thick disk to line thegreased and floured baking pan. 
  • Cut the excess of shortcrust with a knife.
  • Prick the dough with the tines of a fork without piercing it all the way.
  • Pour the ricotta cream inside the mold and with the help of an icing spatula, level the cream.
  • Roll out the remaining pastry disk to an 0.2-inch-thick circle and set it over the leveled cream.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the cake becomes golden brown.


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