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Sicilian cassatine di ricotta
Cassatine di Ricotta (Baked Sicilian ricotta tarts using yeast dough, flavored with lemon and cinnamon)
Originated from: Sicily, Italy
Occasion: Easter and other times
Contributed by: Adapted from an Italian cookbook published in the 1960s

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For the dough (traditional)
1 ounce fresh yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
4 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
juice of 1 lemon

For the dough (Alternative, non-traditional)
1 store-bought fresh pizza dough
Juice of 1 small lemon
3 tablespoons sugar

For filling
1 container (475 grams) ricotta (about 2 1/4 cups)
2 extra-large eggs
1 cup sugar

For sprinkling
about 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Egg wash
Yolk of 1 egg, well-beaten


Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.

Mix sugar and flour together.

Blend the pastry dough ingredients together and work into a stiff dough. Add a touch more water if the resulting mixture is too dry and impossible to work with. (If using store-bought pizza dough, beat lemon juice with the sugar and then incorporate the mixture into the pizza dough.).

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Form into a ball.

Place the dough in a container. Cover. Let the dough rest until it doubles in volume -- about 2 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile drain the ricotta, then mix it with the eggs and sugar. Using an electric mixer make the mixture as smooth as possible. Reserve.

When the dough has risen, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.

Using a cookie cutter cut out a 4-inch round; first crimp up the edges (about 1/2 inch high), then turn them up (pinching them a little) so that a decorative case for the filling is formed (One can reinforce the case by adding a strip of dough, but this is optional as the dough should be thick enough to withstand the weight of the filling).

Fill the case with the ricotta mixture.

Place the cassatine tart on a well-greased baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper.

Repeat the process until all the dough is used up (As the dough tends to dry up, it's best to process the tarts one by one, rather than cut all the rounds at the start).

Sprinkle a touch of cinnamon on each cassatine tart.

Brush the sides of the crimped cassatine dough with beaten egg.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degrees F. oven until the filling is cooked (about 15 to 25 minutes).


This is a traditional Sicilian recipe. This tart has an unusual shape, but it's lovely and on top of that, it's quite easy to form. Unfortunately, the recipe calls for a yeast dough which can be annoying for those who don't like working with fresh yeast (or any other kind of yeast). Also the recipe calls for a very stiff dough. Why I don't know, all I do know that it is very difficult to make a dough from 4 cups flour to 1 cup water (The original recipe calls for even less water). I could never do it even with the help of a Kitchen Aid. Actually, I no longer try. I buy fresh pizza dough from a good Italian pastry shop (It's quite cheap -- $2.50) and then proceed from there. Fresh pizza dough can easily be altered to suit various types of dessert recipes. In fact, one could simply use the pizza dough as is, and then add lemon zest to the ricotta mixture, and that too will result in a nice enough ricotta-based dessert. There are many ways to simplify a recipe (I always look for them, I don't like complicated recipes). I suspect this recipe can also be done with a pasta frolla pastry dough without doing any harm. Using an Italian-style pastry dough would not only simplify the process, it would also speed it up as well. That said, traditional recipes do take time, and if one has it, then one should make an effort to do them as they're supposed to be done, I guess. Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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