My daughter said my granddaughter wanted a cassata cake for her birthday so I search the internet and this is the only one I could find with custard,the rest called for ricotta I guess custard is a Cleveland thing.There alot of steps but I took some shortcuts.(see cooks notes) It turned out great and was a big hit!
1Make the custard(you can do this the night before)Whisk together all of the custard ingredients is saucepan.Bring mixture to a boil over med-low heat,whisking constantly.Turn down heat so the mixture just simmers,and whisk until thick,1-2 minutes.(The key word here are whisk constantly) It will thicken quickly.Transfer to bowl,cover with plastic and cool.Then chill custard,covered for at least 3 hrs.or up to 2 days. (cooks note) I was in a bakery and they sold custard pre-made in big plastic tubes this was 1 step I cheated on)
2Bake cakes:(you can also do this the night before)Preheat oven to 325 Line bottoms of 2 9"round cake pans with lightly oiled parchment paper I used spray & spray pans.(cooks note)My pans were obviously 8" & I had too much batter so I used 3 8" pans and I ended up not having to cut the cakes in half)Thus 1 more step skipped.
3Sift together flour and 1 1/4c. sugar,baking powder & salt twice in bowl.I did first sift on waxed paper then poured that is sifter over bowl.
4In separate bowl,using electric hand mixer beat together the yolks,water,oil,zest and vanilla until smooth.Stir in flour mixture.
5In another large bowl with cleaned beaters,beat egg whites with cream of tartat until soft peaks form.Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat on high until the peaks are stiff but not dry.
6Using rubber spatula (and a light touch) fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.Then fold in the remaining whites.Be very gentle.The goal here is to incorporate the egg whites without deflating them significantly.As soon as the egg whites are no longer visible stop folding.
7Divide batter into pans evenly.Bake for approximately 35 min.Until the top springs back when lightly pressed and toothpick comes out clean.
8For the next step,and for the splitting,wax paper is your friend.Any surfaces that carries a cake layer I line with waxed paper for easy transfer.
9Allow the cakes to cool in their pans on cooling rack for at least an hour.When completely cool run a knife around the sides to release the cakes,cover each pan with a waxpaper lined plate and flip. Gently lift the pans off of cakes,and carefully peel back the parchment.Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hrs. or overnight.
10Meanwhile prepare strawberries:Slice the strawberries thinly but not too thin & place in bowl.Sprinkle with the 2Tbs. sugar and stir.Allow to macerate for 1 hr.Stir once in a while.Strain and save juices.
11When cakes are cool it's time to split them.Using a long serrated knife carefully saw each layer in half.Place each layer on wax lined baking sheet,One layer on cake plate you're serving it on.
12Whip the cream & sugar until stiff.
13Assemble cake:Brush bottom layer with 1/3 reserved strawberry juice,a layer of strawberries the a layer of custard.Top with next layer of cake and repeat,no strawberry juice on top.Cover entire cake with whipped cream.Decorate top with fresh strawberries if desired.Chill cake at least 8 hrs. before serving so the cake absorbs the strawberry juices.Bring to cool room temperature before serving.