An Italian speciality!
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 12 inch round cake pan and an 8 inch round cake pan with baking paper.
For the ricotta filling, combine dried pears, apricots and verjuice in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and set aside to cool. Place quince paste in the freezer for 10 minutes.
For the sponge cakes, combine eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high for 3-4 minutes or until pale, light and fluffy. Sieve the flour and baking powder over egg mixture and add lemon rind. Use a large metal spoon to gently fold to combine.
Spoon 150g of batter into the 8 inch pan. Spoon remaining batter into the 12 inch pan. Smooth tops.
Cook for 12-15 minutes or until cakes are golden and spring back when lightly touched. Cool sponges in the pans for 5 minutes before turning onto wire racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile for the orange syrup, place sugar, water, rind and juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the orange liqueur. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, for the pistachio marzipan, place pistachios in a food processor and process until finely ground, add almond meal and icing sugar and pulse to combine. Add egg whites and process until mix just comes together. Turn out onto the bench and knead until combined.
To assemble, using spray oil grease a 8 inch hemisphere dome mould. Line the inside of the mould with 2 sheets of cling film about 60 cm long, overlapping in a cross, avoid as many creases as possible.
Roll marzipan on a piece of cling film to a round 5mm-thick (approx. 34cm wide). Invert marzipan into the mould and remove cling film from marzipan. Pressing to neatly line the mould. Brush generously with orange syrup.
Trim tops from cakes until they are 1.5cm-thick. Cut one line into the 12 inch cake from the central point to the edge. Place 12 inch round in marzipan-lined tin to cover, pushing down to shape. Overlap cut edges and cut excess sponge to fit in a thin even layer. Brush generously with orange syrup. Place in fridge.
For the filling, combine ricotta, mascarpone and sugar in a food processor, blend until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Place cream in the bowl of a standmixer and whisk to soft peaks. Fold cream into ricotta mixture. Drain and cut the soaked pear and apricots into rough 5mm pieces, and sprinkle over ricotta mixture. Add pistachios, cedro, ginger and quince paste. Gently fold until combined.
Spoon ricotta mixture into the lined mould, press in gently to avoid air pockets. Brush the 8 inch sponge generously with syrup and trim to fit inside the mould, syrup side down. Press onto the filling.
Using a 20cm round cake board press on the sponge, trim off excess marzipan and fold excess cling film over to seal.
Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until firm.
Remove cake board and turn cassata out onto the serving plate. Place a flower stencil on top of the cassata (it doesn’t bend over dome), dust icing sugar over the top of stencil to reveal pattern.
Using the candied fruits, decorate around the base of the cassata cake.
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