This cake is named after the mimosa flower (acacia) that is given to women all across Italy on March 8 for International Women’s Day, or “Festa della Donna.” Even though women’s day is not widely observed in the U.S., in other countries across the globe, it’s a big deal – a day when people celebrate the economic, social and political achievements of women.
In Italy, it’s customary to buy a branch, a bouquet, or a small bundle of mimosa flowers to give to your female friends, relatives, teachers, or anyone else you admire. They’re sold everywhere – from florists shops to supermarkets to little floral kiosks on the street.
Here in the U.S. (at least on the East coast), finding the yellow mimosa flowers presents a challenge, but making a mimosa cake does not. The directions may look daunting, but it’s easy to make. It just takes a bit of time but if you make the cake ahead of time, you can freeze the layers then prepare the chantilly cream and assemble the cake on a different day.
I made the cake to share with my wonderful, supportive group of female friends in my Italian chit-chat group in honor of International Women’s Day. I also presented them with small corsages of the flower that came all the way from Holland. After making inquiries to buy the flower, and a few negative responses, a florist in Princeton -Viburnum – was able to order them for me. There are many more women in the group than in the photo below, but here are the ones who were present for today’s gathering, wearing their mimosa flowers.
In addition to all my good friends in the Italian chit-chat group, I want to recognize and salute all the other female friends who have entered my life and enriched it so much over the decades. That goes for you too, my fellow blogger friends and readers. May you have the sweet fragrance of mimosas and years of wonderful female friendships in your life too.
Incidentally, if any of you Central New Jersey bloggers or readers are in the Princeton area on Sunday, come over to the Nassau Inn to see the judging of the pie baking contest in honor of PI day (Einstein’s birthday – March 14 – is the numeric equivalent of PI – 3.14). Ciao Chow Linda submitted Alessandra’s crostata and it was chosen as one of the ten finalists. Professional bakers will be making all the pies and judges will announce the winners around 2:45 p.m.
This recipe for torta mimosa comes from academiabarilla.com and it’s not hard, just time-consuming. Click here for the complete directions with photos demonstrating the technique. Just a couple of caveats – the recipe for the syrup makes way more than you need. Cut it in half and that’ll be more than enough. Also, the cream filling recipe was a little skimpy. I added another half-cup of whipping cream near the end of the assembly of the cake to make sure I had enough of the cream to spread on top. The recipe doesn’t tell you this, but for the final layer – the one that you cut into crumbs and sprinkle on top – it looks better if you remove the browned crust along the edges and top of the cake layer.
printable recipe here
for the sponge cake
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup potato starch (flour)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 6 eggs
For the chantilly cream
- 2 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 T. all-purpose flour
- 1 lemon zest
- 1/2 stick vanilla
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (I would add another 1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
For the syrup (You really only need to make half of this amount)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup Kirsch (dry cherry liqueur)
- 1/2 cup sugar
To make sponge cake, whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixer until firm. Then gently fold in, little by little, the all-purpose flour and potato flour, sieved together, using a spatula. Once the mixture is smooth, pour it into two 8 inch cake tins that have been buttered and floured. Bake at 325 degrees f. for 45 minutes. Once cooked, allow the cakes to cool.
Beat the heavy cream with the confectioner’s sugar and set aside.
To make the chantilly cream, mix the whipped cream with the confectioner’s custard. To make the confectioner’s custard, cut the vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and put into a bowl. Using a potato peeler, take the zest from a lemon, being careful not to take any of the white part underneath. In a pot, bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla seeds and the lemon zest. As soon as the milk starts boiling, remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks with the sugar. Add the flour, previously sieved, and mix well.
Once the mixture is smooth, dilute it with a bit of warm milk, stirring while adding. Pour the remaining milk through a sieve to remove the lemon zest. Put the mixture back over the heat and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring continuously, allowing it to boil for two to three minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cold, fold in the whipped cream.
To make the syrup, to be used to soak the cake, bring to a boil a mixture of water and sugar so that the latter dissolves. Once dissolved, remove from the heat and add some Kirsch.
Assemble the cake as follows:
- Cut the sponge cakes into horizontal layers
- Line a glass bowl about 8 inches in diameter with bands of baking paper or plastic wrap. Arrange a layer of sponge on the bottom of the bowl
- Using a small brush soak the sponge cake with the Kirsch syrup
- Spread a layer of the cream on top of the sponge and cover with another slice of sponge. Repeat the operation for three sponge layers, but reserve about 1/4 of the filling that you will need to cover the outside. Then, put the cake in the refrigerator and allow to rest for 30 minutes or more.
- With the last layer of sponge cake, trim the brown edges and crust. Cut into small pieces and crumble more finely with hands, if desired.
- Take the cake from the refrigerator and flip the cake onto a cake plate
- Coat the outside of the cake with the remaining cream.
- Spread the pieces of broken-up sponge cake all over the cake.