Jul 162020

Blueberry Limoncello Cassata Cake

Blueberry Limoncello Cassata Cake

This cake is one of the best things I have ever made, and I don’t even care for cake! Traditional Sicilian Cassata Cake calls for candied fruit, ricotta, and sweet Marsala wine.  I’ve substituted fresh blueberries and limoncello because that is such a beautiful combination, and the candied lemon slices are a nod to the original recipe.

Serves 10-12


For the Sponge Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups superfine granulated sugar, divided*
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Limoncello
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Candied lemon slices
  • Mint leaves

For the Filling:

  • 30 ounces (2 tubs) whole-milk ricotta
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

For the Frosting:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon Limoncello

For the Candied Lemon Slices

  • 2 lemons, washed and cut into 1/8″ slices
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water


For the Sponge Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 335°F. Prepare 3 9-inch round baking pans by greasing each and lining the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. Measure the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into one bowl, whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed to a stiff peak. Add 1 cup of the sugar (1 tablespoon at a time) while the mixer is running. Scoop the meringue into a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Lightly wipe the mixer bowl and replace the wire whip with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter with the remaining 1 cup of sugar on low speed. Add the vanilla and lemon extracts and combine.
  5. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl all the way to the bottom using a flexible spatula and mix on low speed until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  6. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk about a quarter at a time without pausing between additions.
  7. Stop the mixer and gently fold the meringue into the batter with a flexible spatula, about 1/3 at a time. (To fold, drag your spatula around the edge of the bowl and fold over the middle of the batter. Repeat this motion until the batter and meringue are fully mixed.) Pour the mixture evenly into the 3 prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cakes for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and gently peel off the parchment paper. They will be fragile, so handle them with care.

For the Filling:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment, whip the ricotta, sifted powdered sugar, and extracts until creamy (2-3 minutes). Stir in the lemon zest and the blueberries and set aside.

For the Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment, whip the heavy cream, and sifted powdered sugar until stiff peaks form, add the Limoncello and mix until just incorporated. Store in the refrigerator until needed, up to 3 days.

For the Candied Lemon Slices:

  1. Combine the lemon juice, sugar and water in a large skillet and heat until the sugar is melted. Add the lemon slices in a single layer, do not overlap. Boil for about 25-40 minutes until the lemons are transparent, use tongs to flip the lemon slices about half-way through. It can take a while, so be patient.
  2. Remove lemons and set on parchment paper-lined baking tray.  Reserve the lemon syrup for another use, like a lemon drop!
  3. Refrigerate lemon slices for several hours before using. Use them to garnish desserts or cocktails. They are sweet and sour and delicious!

To Assemble:

  1. Place one layer of cake on a plate and brush with Limoncello, top with 1/2 of the ricotta filling, top with another cake round, brush with Limoncello, and the remainder of the filling, brush the last cake round with Limoncello and place on top. At this point it is helpful to refrigerate the cake for a few hours (up to over-night) to allow the ricotta filling to set before frosting. If you have a 9” spring-form cake pan to arrange your cake in, it makes it a little easier. Place a sheet of parchment on the bottom round of the spring-form pan and allow the edges to sit beyond the rim before locking the pan in place. This forms a little collar around the cake that will make it easy to transfer to a cake platter. Trim off the excess parchment once the cake is on the final serving dish.
  2. Once the ricotta mixture is set, frost with the whipped cream frosting. It can be piped or spread with an offset spatula, top with blueberries, candied lemon slices and mint sprigs. Serve with a glass of Limoncello!

*Superfine sugar is expensive, and you can make your own by pulsing granulated sugar in a food processor until it is a fine powder.

Buon Apettito!


About Keli Sim DeRitis

Keli Sim DeRitis is an artist, designer, passionate cook, teacher, and tour guide. Keli founded Poggi Bonsi in 2001 to share her love of European travel, food, wine, and culture. Connect with me on Google+