Sicilian rum cake (Cassata)

Time 1 hour, plus 1 hour chilling
Yields Serves 8 to 10
Sicilian rum cake (Cassata)
(Los Angeles Times)



Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.


Combine the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl, whisking until thick and light. Stir in the vanilla.


Beat the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until glossy, 15 to 20 seconds.


Incorporate 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture. Sift 1/4 cup of the flour over the mixture and fold it in. Repeat, folding in whites and flour, until the last flour is nearly incorporated. Fold in the butter.


Pour the batter into the pan. Bake just until the cake pulls away from the pan, 30 minutes. Cool slightly before unmolding.



Cut the spongecake into 3 layers. Pour rum over the candied fruits.


Beat the cheese, powdered sugar, cinnamon and almond extract until creamy, about 2 minutes. Drain the fruit and stir it in, along with the chocolate, blending well.


Place 1 cake layer on a large cake plate and spread with 1/3 of the filling. Top with the second layer and spread with 1/3 of the filling. Top with the remaining layer and spread the remaining filling over top. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and garnish with the cherries. Chill 1 hour.

This spongecake is adapted from “The New Basics Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (Workman, 1989).

For a 2-layer cake, cut the cake in half.