There is nothing more satisfying than having something sweet with your morning coffee. Tony Verge and John Bertuna, the proprietors of Hawthorn’s Once a Tailor cafe, know this only too well. So they’ve been making sure that their customers have access to a favourite Sicilian sweet – little ricotta pastries known as cassateddi.

“In the village where our family’s from, Vizzini, which is in central Sicily, it’s an area where high-quality ricotta is produced,” says Bertuna. Cassateddi made an everyday appearance in their childhood homes and their relatives still make them as the perfect gift to take when visiting. The ingredients are kept uncomplicated: ricotta, vanilla essence, cinnamon, pastry and egg white, with a dusting of icing sugar. “Some put orange juice in, or raisins, but we keep it simple. It’s a combination of a few of our aunties’ recipes,” says Verge.

One change to the traditional recipes has been to lessen the thickness of the dough. “Because they’re shallow-fried in olive oil, the more delicate the pastry, the less it absorbs the oil and the better they are for you.”

Have a go at making your own cassateddi this weekend and discover the perfect foil to your short black.

Cassateddi by Tony Verga at Once a Tailor

Cotton Sea Oil (for frying)

Dough
2 cups self-raising flour
2 cups plain flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp bicarb soda

Filling
2 dessert spoons vanilla essences
1 cup white wine (the secret ingredient)
500g ricotta
2 egg whites
pinch of cinnamon

Combine dough ingredients and knead, then begin to roll out in a pasta machine as thin as possible before tearing, because when cooked it will expand. Cut dough into circles of about 5cm in diameter (can use a scone cutter). Place 1 ½ tsp of filling into each circle of dough. Fold the dough so all edges meet and seal with a bit of egg and use a fork to press edged down. Fill a shallow pan halfway with cotton sea oil and bring to 140–160 degrees C. Fry the pastries for 3–5 minutes or until golden. Let sit on paper towel to cool and soak up excess oil. Ready to eat!

Once a Tailor
727 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

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