Cassatella di Agira De.Co.

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Cassatella of Agira Print E-mail

The Agira’s Cassatella is the pearl of Agira, the queen of Agira’s tradition.

Brief historical excursus

The Agira’s cassatella is a cake with very ancient origin, an essential element of the traditional Agira’s cuisine. It is difficult to document the history of casatella because there are no written sources about it. Thus oral sources that can be obtained on the territory of Agira are related to an empirical knowledge of the subject and often refer to a fairly limited period of time, coinciding with the personal experiences of an artisan.

At least in its earliest version colled “pasticciotto”, now lost, it had a circular shape and was characterized by a button placed at the top center of the disc, as if to recall another Sicilian sweet, the “minn ‘e vergine”, which is dedicated to Saint Agatha.

In the millennial history of Agira, the culture that without doubt has the greatest impact on the birth of the Agira’s cassatella is the Spanish one. Subsequently elements agropastoral and baronial, suggestions rich and poor are added and they would bring in the traditional ricotta cassatella noble elements like almonds and cocoa, with chick pea flour to fulfill the role of condensing natural, widely available and affordable for the stuffing. Suggestive hypothesis on which we have historical documents to comfort, but wholly consistent with the evidence at our disposal.

The cultural and economic importance  of Agira’s cassatella has convinced the municipalities to adopt municipal Name (De. Co.).

Recipe of Agira’s cascatella

Ingredients for pasta

  • 3 kg of flour type "00"
  • 0.7 kg of sugar
  • 1.3 kg of suet
  • 4 eggs (5 if they are small)
  • Water

 

Ingredients for filling

  • 1.25 kg of shelled almonds, toasted
  • 1.1 kg of sugar
  • 90 g unsweetened cocoa
  • 140 grams of sweet cocoa
  • 1.5 l of water
  • Peel of 3 lemons
  • 300 g of chickpea flour or durum wheat

 

Preparing pasta

Mix flour and suet by hand to dissolve the suet, add the beaten eggs and sugar, mix the dough and add water slowly to give the dough a consistency that allows it to be ironed with a rolling pin.
Leave to rest for about 10 hours before working.
Work the dough sticks to achieve sticks with a diameter that you can fit in your hand (do not use much force).

Preparing filling

Chop the almonds along with the lemon peel. Repeat the chopping least three times to refine the parsley.
Put water in pot with sugar and ground almonds, bring to boiling over low heat and stir so the mixture is homogeneous.
Once they reach the boiling point add the cocoa and stir constantly to blend the mixture well and prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Always with quick fire slowly add the chickpea flour (to prevent lumps), just to get the right consistency (usually not more than 300 g.).
Cook everything for about 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly.
At the end of cooking, place the dough in a container, preferably ceramic or enamel.
Wait for the filling is cool before using it or work. To avoid surface hardened stir occasionally.

Making Cassatelle

Detach a bit of dough from the sticks and make balls that will be ironed with a rolling pin to form sheets of circular pasta (diameter 15 cm). (spreading the work area with flour to prevent dough from sticking, be careful not to smudge of flour the top of the dough because otherwise you can not close it).
Place a spoonful of dough in the center of the leaf and made close to half pressing with your fingers on the edge of the semicircle, so as to accurately close the filling and cut with the wheel or the appropriate form (done by hand in Agira) to form the half moon.
Stow cassatelle on a baking sheet (typically using tin pans that prevent cassatelle from sticking, use any baking paper with traditional baking pans) and bake in the oven at high temperature (typically used the stone oven where, before to put cassatelle, skin of almonds is burned) for a few minutes to harden the external dough (be carefully to avoid burning).
Dust cassatelle with sugar or icing sugar and ground cinnamon, to better adhere the sugar to cassatella you should brush the cassatella with glue before dusting.
The adhesive is prepared by cooking water with sugar and it must be such as to be not absorbed by the dough of cassatella and at the same time it has to allow the powdered sugar to join.

 
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