I first came across Cassola on the Instagram of Carla Tomasi, an Italian cook who teaches in Rome, and was intrigued by the fact it is made up of just three main ingredients: ricotta, eggs and sugar.
After a bit of Googling to find out more, I read that Cassola was originally a Jewish dish, cooked in a pan in the style of pancakes. Over the years it transformed into a baked cheesecake that is now, supposedly, traditionally eaten in Rome at Christmas.
However, the simple ingredient list means it can be adapted for any time of year. It is unlike the baked cheesecakes we are probably familiar with. For one, this doesn’t have a biscuity base, it is much lighter and reminds me a bit of a soufflé. I have given some flavour suggestions below so you can change it up to suit the occasion. On Mother’s Day I kept it simple with a dash of vanilla and served it with roasted rhubarb and I imagine I’ll be making it a lot throughout summer to be eaten with fresh berries.
Cassola (baked ricotta cheesecake)
1 cake, 20cm
110g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Optional flavours (see flavour note at the bottom of the recipe):
Rum and raisin
Put the ricotta in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Use an electric whisk to beat the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy. This could take 5-10 minutes.
Fold the ricotta into the egg mixture gently.
Fold in the salt then fold in your optional add-ins (see flavour note below).
Heat your oven to 200oC (fan oven). Grease a 20cm springform tin with butter then dust with flour.
Pour the mixture into the tin and put in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 180oC and cook for a further 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door. Leave the cassola in the oven with the door ajar for about 20 minutes before taking it out to cool fully. Once fully cool, carefully remove from the pan.
Serve cold or at room temperature.
If you have kept the cassola plain or flavoured it subtly with vanilla, lemon or orange, try serving it with fresh seasonal fruit or fruit compote, such as rhubarb or berry. If you have opted for the rum and raisin or chocolate chip you could simply dust it with icing sugar.
Rum and raisin: soak 50g of raisins in hot water for about 15-20 minutes until plump then drain. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of rum and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the raisins and leave to absorb for about 10 minutes before folding into the mixture.
Vanilla: fold in 2 teaspoons vanilla essence.
Lemon or Orange: fold in the zest of one lemon or orange
Chocolate chip: fold in 60g chocolate chips, roughly chopped, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Recipe adapted from one by Carla Tomasi