Tracing Debated Roots Of Cassata Cake & Its Popularity In India
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Have you ever eaten that multi-coloured cassata ice cream? The cake-like confection that is widely served in Indian weddings and festivities. Though the roots of the dessert are not Indian, it enjoys immense popularity in cultural gatherings. In modern-day, it is referred to as the Sundae or cakey sundae, but for the 90s children in India, the sweet delight can stir up good memories.

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It is widely accepted that cassata cake originated in Italy, but its roots remain debatable. It has been centuries since the dessert has travelled the world and evolved, but many experts continue to debate about its birth. This article will acquaint you with all the theories and the evolution of cassata in India. 

Arabs, Cassata And Italy

One of the most popular and widely accepted theories around the origin of cassata is that Arabs introduced it to the mediaeval Sicily, Italy. When Arabs invaded the city in the 10th century, they brought their skills and sugar production techniques. Cassata cake is the result of the amalgamation of Arabian cuisine with the local culinary traditions of Sicily.

When Italians combined their existing skills of making pastry with the sugar-making craft introduced to them by Arabs, cassata cake was born. It became a symbol of the merging of two cultures. The earliest description of the dessert indicates that it was made by filling ricotta.

In the royal kitchens of Palermo, chefs reportedly started experimenting with honey or sugar as sweeteners and layering of ricotta. The sponge cake would encompass the creamy layers. However, many historians refuse to believe this story of origin.

Palermo’s Kitchen Birthed Cassata

Many people believe that cassata originated in the royal kitchen of Palermo, but a different story than Arabs introducing Sicily with the sugar-making skills. According to another theory, the cassata dessert was born in the 19th century in Palermo's kitchen by an ambitious pastry chef.

It is believed that he had access to an excess amount of candied fruits. He thought of decorating a local ricotta cake with the delightful candies. Hence, the dish was called Cassata Siciliana. This theory says that the dessert came into existence out of modern creativity and not ancient history.

Did Cassata Have Latin Roots?

A few people debate that the word cassata has originated from the Latin word ‘caseus’, which means cheese. Since ricotta cheese is a popular ingredient in Latin cuisine, many believe that the dessert must have roots in the Italian process of cheese making rather than Arabs using techniques to make sugar. 

Was Cassata Cake A Pie Before?

Many food historians believe that cassata originated from a fruit pie. It was not a lavish decadent but a simple pie filled with fruits. It is believed that as the people of Sicily refined the art of making pastries and working with sugar, they developed multi-layered cassata cake. However, there are no definite claims to this theory.

Evolution And Popularity Of Cassata In India

In India, cassata is three different layers of ice cream served on a thin spongy layer of cake. The crescent shape, toppings of pistachios and tutti frutti, and colourful layers of the frozen dessert make this dish widely popular across India. The cassata cake is prepared by adding alternative layers of fruit cream comprising big chunks of fruits.

People love the dish and find joy in relishing it. However, there is no debate that the dish originated in India, but Indians do take the credit of popularising the dessert.