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Italian Strawberry Cassata Cake

Indulge in the irresistible combination of luscious strawberries, delicate ricotta cream, and moist cake layers with this heavenly Italian Strawberry Cassata Cake. The light and tender cake layers, infused with hints of vanilla and brown sugar, provide the perfect base for the vibrant flavors to shine through.

Topped with macerated strawberries and a delectable ricotta cream, this dessert is a delightful treat that will captivate your taste buds and impress anyone lucky enough to enjoy it. And if you love strawberry cakes, check out my other favorite Strawberry Crunch Cake.

side view of italian strawberry cake on white cake stand

This is a liberal interpretation of a Cassata, and this version has loads of fresh strawberries (this is a traditional Cassata cake ).

Why Make This Cake

You should make this delicious Italian Strawberry Cassata Cake because it offers a fantastic combination of flavors and textures.

The moist and tender cake layers, with a subtle hint of vanilla and brown sugar, provide a perfect canvas for the luscious strawberries and creamy ricotta cream.

Each bite perfectly balances sweetness and tanginess, creating a truly indulgent experience.

Whether celebrating a special occasion or simply treating yourself, this cake will impress your guests and leave a lasting impression. Plus, it’s a great way to take advantage of fresh, juicy strawberries in season. So, go ahead and dive into this irresistible dessert and let its heavenly flavors transport you to dessert bliss.

What You’ll Need

For the Cake

italian cake layer ingredients mise en place
Cake layer ingredients: Flour (top); Oil, baking powder, cream of tarter, salt (left), sugar, brown sugar (center); buttermilk and vanilla extract (right).

Cake flour is used for its fine texture, which results in a tender and light cake.

Baking powder helps the cake layers rise and become fluffy.

Fine sea salt enhances the flavors in the cake and balances the sweetness.

Brown sugar adds moisture and richness to the cake and a subtle caramel flavor.

Granulated sugar sweetens the cake layers.

Eggs provide structure, moisture, and richness to the cake.

Canola oil adds moisture to the cake and helps create a tender crumb.

Buttermilk adds tanginess and moisture to the cake, resulting in a softer texture.

Vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor of the cake.

Cream of tartar stabilizes the beaten egg whites, helping them hold their shape and create a lighter texture.

Ingredients for the Ricotta Cream

strawberry cake filling ingredients mise en place
Filling ingredients: sugar, heavy cream (top), orange zest, ricotta (middle), chopped chocolate, and vanilla extract (bottom).

Whole milk ricotta adds a creamy and slightly tangy flavor to the cream.

Sugar sweetens the ricotta cream and helps thicken it.

Orange zest (optional) adds a bright citrus flavor to the cream.

Pure vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor of the cream.

Bittersweet chocolate (optional) can be added for a touch of richness and a hint of bitterness.

Cold heavy cream is whipped and folded into the ricotta mixture to create a light and airy texture.

Ingredients for the Strawberry Layer

Fresh strawberries provide a vibrant and juicy fruit component to the cake.

Sugar is added to the sliced strawberries to macerate them, drawing out their natural juices and enhancing their sweetness.

Orange liquor or orange juice adds a citrusy note and further enhances the flavor of the strawberries.

How To Make

Start by macerating the strawberries. Combine the sliced strawberries, sugar, and orange liquor or juice, and set them aside to release their juices.

chopped strawberries in glass bowl topped with sugar
Macerating strawberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare three 9-inch by 2-inch cake pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Gently combine the wet and dry ingredients.

egg mixtures poured over flour mixture in glass bowl
Combining wet and dry ingredients

In a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy, gradually adding the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter gently, using a light touch.

beaten egg whites added to egg yolks in glass bowl
Folding egg whites into batter

Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans on a wire rack.

baked cake layers on white marble
Baked cake layers

In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla extract. If desired, fold grated bittersweet chocolate into the mixture. In another bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, and then fold it into the ricotta mixture.

adding grated chocolate into ricotta cream in glass bowl
Preparing the filling; adding chocolate

To assemble the cake, brush each cake layer with strawberry juice, then spread a layer of macerated strawberries and ricotta cream. Repeat with the remaining cake layers.

Finish by brushing the top layer with juice and garnishing with strawberries. Save any remaining ricotta cream for serving.

Brushing cake layers with strawberry juice.
spreading filling over strawberry layer
Adding strawberries and filling to cake layers.


Cake flour: If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can substitute by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons, and replacing those 2 tablespoons with cornstarch. Sift the mixture well to ensure proper texture.

Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a DIY version by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until it curdles slightly. This will mimic the tanginess of buttermilk.

Canola oil can be substituted with other neutral-tasting oils like vegetable oil or light olive oil. Just ensure they have a similar consistency to maintain the moisture in the cake.

Whole milk ricotta: If you don’t have whole milk ricotta, you can use part-skim ricotta instead. The texture may differ slightly, but it will still work well in the ricotta cream.

Bittersweet chocolate: If you prefer not to use chocolate or if you or someone you’re serving has an aversion to it, omit the grated bittersweet chocolate from the ricotta cream. The cream will still be deliciously creamy and flavorful without it.

Orange liquor or juice: If you don’t have orange liquor or prefer not to use alcohol, you can substitute it with freshly squeezed orange juice. It will provide a similar citrusy note to complement the strawberries.


Once you’ve assembled the Ricotta Strawberry Cake, it’s best enjoyed fresh. However, if you have leftovers, you can store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cover the cake with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh and prevent it from drying out.

slice of italian strawberry cake on white dish with fork

Make Ahead

Cake Layers: You can bake the cake layers in advance. Once cooled, wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. This way, you can assemble the cake closer to the time you plan to serve it, saving you time on the day of the event.

Macerated Strawberries: You can macerate the strawberries ahead of time. Prepare the macerated strawberries as instructed, cover them, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. This will allow the strawberries to develop more flavor and become even juicier.

Ricotta Cream: The ricotta cream is best prepared and assembled on the day you plan to serve the cake. However, you can make the ricotta cream a few hours before and store it in the refrigerator until needed. Just be sure to cover it tightly to prevent any flavors from transferring.

slice being removed from cake on stand

📖 Recipe

slice of italian strawberry cake on white dish with fork

Italian Strawberry Shortcake

The most delicious Italian strawberry shortcake.
5 from 2 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Cake
Cuisine Dessert
Servings 15 to 18
Calories 316 kcal


For the cake

  • 1 3/4 sifted cake flour (7 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (2.5 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (4.66 ounces)
  • 5 eggs , separated and at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

For the ricotta cream

  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3.5 ounces)
  • zest of 1 orange (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • bittersweet chocolate , 2 ounces (optional)
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream

For the strawberries

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries , sliced
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange liquor or orange juice


To make the macerated strawberries

  • Combine all ingredients and set aside while the making and baking the cake

For the cake:

  • Line the bottom of three 9-inch by 2-inch pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 C).
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of the sugar together and stir to combine
  • In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, oil, buttermilk and vanilla
  • Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently only until smooth – don’t overmix
  • In a stand mixer, add the egg whites to a clean bowl and beat on high until just frothy and then add the cream of tarter. Continue beating on high until soft peaks form and then add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar slowly, then continue beating on high until firm peaks are formed.
  • Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour/egg yolk mixture and then add the remaining egg whites and combine using the fewest strokes possible, using a light touch
  • Divide the batter equally among the 3 pans (about 10 ounces each) and bake for about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake!
  • Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack

For the ricotta cream

  • Combine the ricotta, sugar, zest (if using), and vanilla gently until smooth (note: the original recipe calls for pureeing in a food processor; however, my ricotta turned very runny and didn’t firm up upon refrigeration and so I’d recommend lightly combining by hand)
  • Grate chocolate and fold it into the mixture (I didn’t use this as my daughter doesn’t like chocolate 🙁 )
  • Whip the heavy cream and fold it into the ricotta mixture until just combined

To assemble the cake

  • Drain and reserve the juice from the strawberries
  • Place one cake layer on a cake board or plate and brush top with 1/3 of the strawberries juice then top with 1/3 of the strawberries and 1/3 of the ricotta cream
  • Repeat with second cake layer
  • To finish, top the cake with the final layer, brush with juice, and top with strawberries. Reserve the remaining ricotta cream for serving


Calories: 316kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 6gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 216mgPotassium: 254mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 470IUVitamin C: 40mgCalcium: 127mgIron: 1mg
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Recipe from my favorite cake cook book: Vintage cakes, by Julie Richardson

If you are a cake lover, you must get a copy of Julie’s book!


  1. This is NOT Cassata. It’s just an Italian style strawberry shortcake. Do not try to reinvent the wheel. It pisses me off that people that the liberty of changing traditional foods to advance their own purposes. Call it something else if this is what you created. It ain’t Cassata. There’s no glaze, no candied fruit.Chocolate is not optional in a Cassata center. Both the trademarks of a Cassata. Stop it. Rename it. You’re misleading people.

    1. It’s a strawberry italian cake, mainly – yes, I can see what you mean. I’m not at ALL familiar with cassata. It appears that the cassata cake recipe was brought to USA in the Ohio area by Sicilians – I am not from the midwest and my roots are not Sicilian so that explains that – if you’d like to link to a recipe that is more traditional, I’d love to try it.

    2. My my, someone’s a bit full of themselves, aren’t they? No need to be rude Sonia! Maybe if you stepped back a bit, you could make a coherent statement – your overflowing vitriol has you writing non-sensical phrases, ie: “It pisses me off that people that the liberty of changing traditional foods…” – what exactly is that? Calm down and think about what you want to say, and then be nice and say it in a more gracious manner. Thanks!

      1. Its so bice to have a twist on recipes…Thank you for taking the time to share it..I googled Italian Strawberry Shortcake & yours sounded yummy!.

  2. I have tried A LOT of pancake recipes in my years of cooking buttermilk and otherwise and this BY FAR is my favorite! It is fluffy and moist which is what I look for! YUMMY! 

  3. I was getting ready to make this, but now I’m confused. The ingredients say ‘baking powder’, Directions say ‘baking soda’, can you clarify?

  4. This looks AMAZING and I can’t wait to try it. Can you please tell me if the amount of oil is tablespoons or teaspoons? Thanks!

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