Monday, June 8, 2009

The issue with Cassata Cake

Well, at long last my life has uncluttered itself enough to allow me time to return to my hobby: writing. I haven't visited this blog in months, but have thought of it constantly. Like the new garden I've planted this summer, I need to tend this blog and give it all of the love and care it deserves in order for it to flourish and bloom. Also, I need another outlet for my fun and feisty rants.

Cassata cake: Probably one of my favorite Italian confections of all time. An Italian cake made of sponge layers with canoli filling, often dressed with nuts and candied fruits. Wherever I see the word "Cassata" I have to stop in my tracks and check the situation out. When I visited The Venetian resort in Las Vegas, a shop featured cassata gelato and I nearly died! Prepare for major drool factor:

Unfortunately, however, modern bakeries that don't craft their culinary works by hand and rely on pre-made or frozen items feature their version of cassata cake. This version is approximately strawberry shortcake passed off as a traditional cassata. Stopping by an Italian bakery and seeing slices of this stuff in the counter hurts my heart and immediately tarnishes the bakeries image in my mind. Quel dommage!

Having had a major lack of cassata cake in my life for roughly 3 years (gelato is great but it's just not cake) when my mom asked what I would like for my college graduation party (she was so kind to have one for me!) I immediately blurted out "CASSATA CAKE!"

Canfora bakery has been a long cherished Milwaukee tradition and has been our go-to family bakery since I can remember. Every Sunday I would go there with my grandpa after church and we'd get ham and rolls for the family. My treat was a bag containing 4 mexican wedding cakes; the best post-catholic mass treat I can ever imagine. Of course, I knew they would have cassata done right and that this would make the party. With a full house of Italians, how could this be bad?

The morning of the party came and while my mom and I are preparing to leave, she turns to me and looks at me for a moment.

"I think I might have made a mistake with the cake."

My heart stops briefly and commences function again. "What do you mean?"

"Well, they asked me what I wanted on the cake and they said I could have white chocolate shavings, nuts, or sprinkles. I think I said sprinkles."


I have NEVER in my life seen a cassata cake covered in sprinkles. Nuts and fruit, thats the right way. However, since its the morning of the party and since the cake has been ordered and is ready, what is there to do now?

Arriving at the bakery my mom continues to say that it won't be a big deal. It'll be fine. We get out number, wait, order, and have our cake brought out to us. When we see the cake, we both look to each other and share the same thought: Oh...No...

It wasn't awful, but it sure wasn't pretty. We both couldn't stop laughing the whole way home. This cassata was one of the ugliest cassatas I've ever seen, but it tasted divine and our whole family got a good laugh out of it. I guess it simply proves that what counts is whats on the inside: sponge cake and canoli filling NOT strawberry shortcake.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I'm so excited to finally be sharing my modified pattern for the Cobblestonette. Before I continue, I have to say that I'm incredibly thankful for the initial publication by Jared Flood at brooklyntweed and very thankful for the inspiration provided by other insightful knitter on Ravelry like lilybeth and neekie. I'm definitely not seeking to gain anything from publishing my adjustments, just hoping to help clarify this INCREDIBLE pattern for other women who might be inclined to create their own Cobblestonette.

The Cobblestonette.

Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Treasure (100% Baby Alpaca). Approximately 10 skeins. Color: Lilac Heather.
Needles: US #3 (3.25mm) 24 and 29” Circulars, #3 (3.25mm) set of double pointed needles.
Gauge: 6 stitches per inch.
Size of the garment: Roughly XS - S.

Note: Throughout the pattern I say “moss X amount of sts.” Moss = k1,p1, repeat.

With 24” circulars, cast on 176 stitches. Place marker (pm) and join in round. The following two rows comprise the moss stitch repeat: Row 1: *K1, p1, repeat till end of round.* Row 2: *P1, k1, repeat till end of round.” Repeat these two rows until piece measures 2” from CO edge. Next rnd: K1, p1 (15). Pm. K (73). Pm. K1, p1 (15). K(73). Continue until piece measures 4” from CO edge.

Decrease round: k1, p1 (15). Slip marker (sm), k1, k2tog, knit to 3 stitches before next marker, k2tog tbl (or SSL), k1. Sm. K1, p1 (15). Sm. K1, k2tog, knit to 3 stitches before next marker (end of round), k2tog tbl (or SSL). 172 stitches remain.

Repeat decrease round every 6th row, 3 times more. 160 stitches remain.

Continue in pattern until piece measures 19” from CO edge.

I highly encourage occasionally slipping all stitches onto waste yarn and trying the piece on to help achieve the correct length you would like. 19 inches happens to be a perfect length for me, but I do have a slightly longer torso. Also, I did not include any increases for the bust because I wanted a very tight fit; however, looking back on it now I probably could have used just a few increases. The lovely part of this simple sweater is that you can adjust the pattern and measurements as you see fit.

With double pointed needles, cast on 36 stitches and distribute evenly over 3 needles (12 stitches per needle). I modified the number of stitches for the cast on at the wrist because I have TINY wrists. If you tend to have larger wrists, I would suggest perhaps casting on 42 stitches and waiting before you increase. Work in moss stitch repeat until piece measures 2” from CO. Next rnd: Knit. Continue until work measures 5” from CO.

Increase rnd: K2, m1. Knit to the last 2 stitches before end of rnd, m1.

Repeat increase round every 6th row, 12 times more. 58 stitches. Continue until sleeve measures 20” from CO. Again I recommend trying the sleeve on to adjust to your personal measurements.

Next rnd: K to last 7 stitches, slip next 13 sts onto waste yarn, removing m. 45 sts remain. Place sts on holder.

Join the body and sleeves! Continue with longer circular needle, beginning at center back. Moss stitch 33 body back sts, moss 45 sts of first sleeve and pm (Short-row Marker 1). Moss 65 body front sts and pm (Short-row Marker 2), moss 45 sts of second sleeve. Moss 32 sts of body back and pm for beg of rnd: 220 sts total.

Short-Row 1: (RS) Moss stitch to Short-Row Marker 1, moss 10, wrap next st, turn.
Short-Row 2: (WS) Moss stitch to Short-Row Marker 2, moss 10, wrap next st, turn.
Next row: Moss stitch to beginning of rnd m. Moss 2 rows more.
Short-Row 3: (RS) Moss to Short-Row Marker 1, moss 6, wrap next st, turn.
Short-Row 4: (WS) Moss to Short-Row Marker 2, moss 6, wrap next st, turn.
Next row: Moss to beg-of-rnd m. Moss 2 rows more.
Short-Row 5: (RS) Moss to Short-Row Marker 1, moss 2, wrap next st, turn.
Short-Row 6: (WS) Moss to Short-Row Marker 2, moss, 2, wrap next st, turn.
Next row: Moss to beg-of-rnd m. Moss 2 rows more.
Short-Row 7: (RS) Moss to Short-Row Marker 1, wrap next st, turn.
Short-Row 8: (WS) Moss to Short-Row Marker 2, wrap next st, turn.
Next row: Moss to beg-of-rnd m. Work in moss stitch until yoke measures 2” at center back.

Change to shorter circular needles when necessary.

This is where things get a LITTLE tricky with moss stitch. In order to decrease and keep with the most stitch you have to decrease two stitches consecutively. It isn’t ideal, but since the moss stitch has such a definite texture, the decreases are hardly visible.

Decrease rnd 1: *Moss 3, p2tog, k2tog, moss 3.* Repeat until the end of rnd.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The first decrease stitch for all decrease rows MUST be a purled stitch in order for the two consecutive decreases to not look horrible. Therefore, if you happen to have to moss 2 instead of 3 for the first step of the decrease round depending on whether you began with a p or a k at the center back, so be it.

Work in moss st until yoke measures 4” at center back.
Decrease rnd 2: *Moss 2, p2tog, k2tog, moss 2.* Repeat until end of rnd.
Work in moss st until yoke measures 5” at center back.
Decrease rnd 3: *Moss 2, p2tog, k2tog, moss2* Repeat until end of rnd.
Work in moss st until desired length is achieved. BO.

I bound off only one or two rows after the last decrease. I wanted a wider neck for a more feminine look. I also used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off method, which happens to look fabulous with the moss stitch.

Use a tapestry needle to Kitchener st the underarm stitches together. Block to assigned measurements (or the measurements you so desire). Weave in ends.

Note on blocking and yarn: The Andean Treasure yarn from Knit Picks is absolutely wonderful and blocks to perfection. I had one or two minor visible gauge issues in the body and it blocked out instantly. Also, I had previously used these skeins of yarn to knit a sweater which I unraveled, soaked and re-used for this sweater so it definitely is durable and reliable. It’s incredibly soft, has wonderful ease and is very affordable. I highly recommend it.
I hope this helps you ladies out! This is a great sweater and a great exercise in learning how to shape a piece to your own body. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Maiden Post

Well, sooner or later I'd have to come back to this project and kick it off right. Here goes!

Basically, as an introduction, I'm Angie. I knit. I'm Italian. Besides my passion for music, that pretty much encapsulates my life. I could mention the tendency to gorge myself on gnocchi, but that shall be saved for another post.

Mainly I hope to write about my knitting and funny life adventures here. I'll update when I can, but I am a college student with a hectic schedule. Being a double major is a heavy burden, but I definitely make enough time to knit with elan and fervity.

Stay tuned folks: DIRECTIONS FOR THE COBBLESTONETTE are soon to come!