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.