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Italian Strawberry Shortcake (Cassata)

The most delicious Italian strawberry cheesecake, also called Cassata or Italian cream cake.
Course Cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 15 to 18
Author Marie@FeelingFoodish

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, 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