Requires: Pasta machine (alternatively use a rolling pin), pastry brush, fluted pastry wheel (alternatively use a knife)
To make the Sicilian cassatelle with ricotta dough (also known as ‘Cassatine of ricotta’), place flour into a large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix with fingertips until well combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour, butter and sugar mixture. Add the egg yolks and a pinch of salt. Set aside the egg whites in a small bowl. Use a fork to lightly whisk the eggs. Gradually flick the flour into the egg mixture and gradually pour the milk into the centre. When it becomes too hard to stir, use your hands to combine. Cover with cling film and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Note: 00 is a powder-fine Italian type of flour. It is made from soft wheat varieties and is frequently used in Italian desserts and pastas. 00 flour is available in most supermarkets, Italian food stores and gourmet delicatessens.
Meanwhile, to make the Ricotta filling, place the ricotta, caster sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a medium-sized bowl. Mix with a spoon to combine.
Set up the pasta machine on the edge of a clean workbench. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you could use a rolling pin to roll out the cassatelle dough. Adjust the pasta machine to the widest setting. Sprinkle flour over the pasta machine rollers and workbench.
Unwrap the Sicilian cassatelle dough and discard cling film. Divide the dough into 4 portions. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough into a rough rectangle shape. Sprinkle flour over the cassatelle dough.
Rolling the pastry using a pasta machine: Feed the dough through the pasta machine rollers on the widest setting. Fold the flattened dough in half and feed through the pasta machine. Repeat (without folding) two more times. Adjust the setting on the pasta machine to a thinner setting and feed the dough though the machine. Repeat and each time you feed the dough through the machine adjust to thinner setting, one notch at a time, until it reaches a thickness of 1mm.
Rolling the pastry using a rolling pin: Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until you get a thin pastry sheet of 1mm thick.
Spread the pastry sheet on the floured workspace to prevent it from sticking to the workbench. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
Use a fork to lightly whisk the egg whites to use as an egg wash. Use a fluted pastry wheel (alternatively use a knife) to cut out rectangles of the pastry sheets 10cm x 20cm in size. Place one heaped tablespoon of the Ricotta filling along one side of a rectangle pastry square, leaving a border around the edges. Brush the outer edges with the egg wash lightly around the filling. Fold the sheet of pastry in half to form a square and enclose the filling. Use your fingertips to press the pastry down around the filling to remove any air pockets and seal the edges. Use the fluted pastry wheel to trim the edges and create a firm seal. Place the cassatella (cassatina) on a tray dusted with flour. Repeat with the remaining pastry and ricotta filling, placing the cassatelle well-spaced out on the tray.
Heat abundant sesame, sunflower or peanut oil in a medium-sized saucepan until it reaches a temperature of 180 °C. Once the oil is ready, reduce the heat to low. Carefully place three of the cassatelle into the hot oil. Cook for 1.5 minutes on each side. Remove the cassatelle with a slotted spoon and place onto the plate with kitchen paper. Repeat, cooking in batches of three at a time.
Serve immediately or at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar) – buon appetito!