Slice of Cassata Cake

CUSSata Cake (Cake with Strawberries and Ricotta)

**updated 3/24

Italian-inspired Cake with Strawberries and Ricotta

Our Italian-inspired Cake with Strawberries and Ricotta is a simplified version of Cassata- the classic Italian cake that gives you delicious Ricotta cheese, and fresh strawberry layers. While the traditional Cassata cake recipe was made for Easter, the CUSSata cake makes an easy and delicious dessert for any Holiday.  Especially beautiful while strawberries are in season.

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  • Stand or hand mixer
  • 2 9-inch round cake pans
  • Cooking spray, and/or parchment paper



  • Yellow or White Cake Mix
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Eggs


  • Whole Milk
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Lemon zest
  • Vanilla
  • Ricotta
  • Strawberries


  • Heavy Whipping cream
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla


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Where do Cassata Cakes come from?

The Italian Cassata or the original Sicilian Cassata cakes may date back to the 9th or 10th century.  The original version of the cake included a rum -soaked sponge cake with sweetened Ricotta cheese and candied fruit.

The recipe for this cake can be traced back to the Muslim Arab rulers in Sicily, who brought with them their love of sweet pastries and desserts.  During the Middle Ages, it was considered a delicacy only enjoyed by the nobility and wealthy merchants, due to the high cost of its ingredients. Over time, the Cassata recipe evolved and incorporated new ingredients, such as marzipan, sponge cake, and dark chocolate.

The name “Cassata” is said to derive from the Arabic word “quas’at,” which roughly translates to “bowl” or “dish.” Referring to the unique shape of the dessert, the cake was traditionally made in a bowl-shaped mold. Interestingly, the Cassata has also been adopted by neighboring regions such as Puglia and Calabria, where it is known as “Cassatella.”

In recent years, the Cassata has gained worldwide recognition and popularity, with variations of the recipe being enjoyed in many different countries around the world. However, the traditional Sicilian Cassata remains a unique and iconic dessert, beloved by locals and tourists alike.



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Why is the Italian-inspired Cake with Strawberries and Ricotta called a Cassata Cake?

Cassata comes from the Latin word for cheese.  Old documents show the cake was made by both nuns for Easter and Sicilian Jews for Purim; they called it cassati. Perhaps the name is borrowed from an old Italian Casiata, egg and cheese pastry, featuring Cascio cheese?  It is also possible that the Cassata takes its name from the Arabic qas’at meaning “basin”, perhaps because of its round shape.
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What is the Cleveland Cassata Cake?

As a young bride in Chesterland, OH, I discovered the Cleveland Cassata Cake.- and it quickly became a staple for many family parties.  I have moved to many states since, and was always surprised that I could no longer find them.  So I absolutely had to develop my own.

The Cleveland, Ohio “Cassata Cake” uniquely refers to a layered yellow cake soaked in rum or rum syrup, filled with fresh strawberries and custard, and usually decorated with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.  It first appeared in the early 1920s at LaPuma Spumoni & Bakery in Cleveland. The children of the owners did not like the traditional sweetened ricotta and candied fruit.  Tomasso LaPuma made some changes and developed what was to become known as the Cleveland Cassata Cake. The fifth generation of this bakery, now located in the city’s eastern suburb of Chesterland, still continues to make the original Cleveland version, as do many other Italian bakeries in the area


Cassata Cakes are still popular in Cleveland



The ‘Cussata’ Cake with Strawberries and Ricotta

Here’s what the cake looks like after layer 1:


CUSSata Cake with Strawberries and Ricotta filling

Slice of Cassata Cake
5 from 107 votes

CUSSata Cake

Fresh and moist Italian Cassata Cake
Prep Time40 minutes
Active Time28 minutes
Assembly Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 38 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: birthday cake, casada, Casada cake, cassada, Cassada cake, Cassata cake, Cassata Cake recipe, Classic Italian Cake, Cleveland Cassata Cake, Cussata cake, Easter Cake, Italian cake, Italian Cassata Cake, Italian Ricotta Cake, ricotta, Ricotta cake, ricotta filling, Sicilian Cassata Cake, Strawberry and Ricotta Cake, Strawberry Casada Cake, Strawberry Cassata cake, strawberry dessert
Yield: 12
Author: Hanna Jobs


  • Round 9 inch Cake pans


Cake Mix

  • Your favorite Yellow Cake Mix
  • Oil (as directed by mix)
  • Water (as directed by mix)
  • Eggs (as directed by mix)

Ricotta Filling Milk

  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • Tbs flour

Ricotta Filling (Rest)

  • 2 sticks Softened Butter
  • 1 ¾ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Ricotta


  • pints Strawberries (Washed, Hulled, and thinly Sliced)

Whipped Cream

  • 1 pint Chilled Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract


Preheat the oven as described in cake mix instructions

    Prepare cake in two 9 inch Rounds

    • Prepare round pans with grease or cooking spray and/or parchment paper
    • Blend ingredients as directed by cake mix - Mix well to make a smooth batter
    • Bake in preheated oven as directed by cake mix
    • Carefully remove the cakes from the oven
    • Allow the cakes to cool for at least 30 minutes

    Tempered milk and flour mixture

    • Add the milk to a pot
    • Whisk in the flour, until you have no lumps
    • Turn stove to simmer
    • Keep stirring until milk begins to bubble
    • Turn the stove off
    • Continue stirring another 30 seconds
    • Let the mixture cool for 3-5 minutes

    Mix the Remainder of the Ricotta mix

    • Mix Softened Butter and Sugar together first with an electric mixer
    • Mix in the Lemon Zest, Vanilla, and Ricotta
    • Mix in Tempered Milk and Flour mixture
    • Chill until you are ready to use. (refrigerate for at least 30 minutes)

    Make Whipping Cream

    • Add Chilled Heavy cream, Sugar, and Vanilla to a large bowl
    • Combine ingredients using a standing mixer, with wire whip or beaters. Start at low speed
    • Increase the mixing speed slowly, to high speed, as the cream starts to firm up
    • Beat for 60-90 seconds or until you see stiff peaks form

    Assembling the Cake

    • Carefully take the flattest round out of the pan, and place it on a cake board or plate
    • Cover the cooled cake with ½ of the Ricotta Mix. Cover to the edge of the cake
    • Add ⅓of the washed ,dried, and thinly sliced Strawberries to the top of the Ricotta Mix
    • Place the second layer of cake on top
    • Cover with the remaining Ricotta Mix
    • Place another ⅓ of the sliced Strawberries on top of the new layer of Ricotta Mix
    • Cover the top and sides of cake with the Whipped Cream topping
    • Decorate the cake with the remaining Strawberries
    • Refrigerate your cake until ready to serve

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    Frequently Asked Questions about the Cassata Cake

    What the FAQ?



    What is a Cassata cake?

    A Cassata cake is a traditional Italian or Sicilian dessert that consists of sponge cake layered with sweetened ricotta cheese.  It may contain candied fruit, and chocolate chips. The cake may be soaked in a sweet syrup or liquor before being assembled.


    What is the origin of Cassata cake?

    Cassata Siciliana hails from Sicily, Italy, where it is a popular dessert served during special occasions and holidays.  This Sicilian cake has a long history and is believed to have been influenced by Arab and Spanish culinary traditions.


    Can I make a Cassata cake ahead of time?

    Yes, you can make a Cassata cake ahead of time. The cake actually benefits from being chilled for a few hours or overnight before serving, as it allows the flavors to meld together.


    How should I store a Cassata cake?

    Once assembled, refrigerate to keep your Cassata cake fresh. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out. It is best enjoyed within a day of making it.


    Can I make a gluten-free or dairy-free version of Cassata cake?

    Yes, you can make a gluten-free version of Cassata cake by using a gluten-free cake mix or alternative flours. For a dairy-free version, substitute a non-dairy ricotta cheese, lactose-free milk and and lactose-free whipped cream frosting.





    Aphrodesi’Hacks’ for Cussata Cake with Strawberries and Ricotta


    • Be sure to stick with your Milk, while tempering… Don’t let it burn- or you may be adding extra CUSS words to the process!
    • Be sure your cakes are cooked- by inserting a tooth pick or knife in the center of a cake- (it should come out clean)
    • While Cassata cakes are traditionally Strawberry, you could Mix it up with your favorite fruit…maybe cherry, blueberry or peach?
    • I prefer the Heavy cream, but you could use Cool Whip- Make sure it is cool, but not frozen. Frost the top and sides of your cake and garnish with the remaining strawberries.  Ready to serve on an attractive cake plate.  Such a pretty cake
    • Keep the cake in the refrigerator, and cover with plastic wrap to keep it fresh




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    Perfect Pairing

    Limoncello in a palm tree setting



    Homemade Limoncello goes perfectly with Italian Cake.  Who doesn’t love an icy homemade Limoncello? Such a beautiful Italian tradition. Many will enjoy it as an after-dinner- but it is a treat at any time- especially on a warm and sunny day- Delizioso!



    strawberry mojito banner

    How about a delicious Strawberry Mojito with your cake?  Try our Skinny Whore-jito  This low-calorie Whore-jito combines Sugar free lemonade, white rum, fresh mint leaves, and sliced strawberries.  The Weekend – maker!  Perfect for the summer heat.



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    19 Responses

    1. 5 stars
      We lived in Cleveland and bought Cassata cakes for every birthday. So glad to have this beautiful recipe. I love this site. So fun

    2. 5 stars
      I lived in Cleveland and remember this cake. This is so close- but easier!
      Ricotta and strawberry layers make it so delicious

    3. 5 stars
      This is the perfect cake for bbq parties, especially when fresh strawberries are in season. I love using ricotta in both sweet and savoury recipes. What a great celebration cake for any occasion.

    4. 5 stars
      This cake is a hit with my family when we all get together! I love that I can make it ahead of time too! Thanks

    5. 5 stars
      Love baking cakes but have never tried a cussata cake with ricotta cheese, will try this ! Thanks for sharing such a lovely cake recipe.

    5 from 107 votes (107 ratings without comment)

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