On the 8th of March it is tradition to give all women a little bunch of Mimosa, a delicate, bright yellow flower to celebrate the ‘Festa della Donna’ (International Women’s Day)
When I first saw this flower in abundance here, I was quite surprised as was sure that this was the Wattle tree and native only to Australia. I then learned that it was introduced to Europe from Australia in the early 19th century so it’s extra nice to have a little something that reminds me of home on this special day.
The Mimosa flower has been the symbol for the Festa della Donna on the 8th March in Italy since the 1940’s and women of all ages are given a little sprig of mimosa during the day, either by your local bar, colleagues or loved ones. A small gest to remember the social, political and economic achievements of women in history.
You will also find the Torta Mimosa in many cake shops – a light yellow sponge filled with crema pasticceria and whipped cream, then covered in cake crumbles to resemble the flower. Below is the recipe featured in the March issue of This Tuscan Life if you would like to try and make it yourself.
This cake, which looks like a bunch of mimosa / wattle flowers, is eaten on March 8th in celebration of
International Women’s Day.
FOR THE SPONGE CAKE
(23 CM DIAMETER X 2)
200g Caster Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g Plain Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
110g Butter, melted and cooled
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM
2 1/4 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
FOR THE LIQUER SYRUP
150 ml Water
80 ml Sugar
80 gr Grand Marnier
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
300 ml Fresh Cream
35 ml Sugar
METHOD – SPONGE CAKE
Preheat Oven to 180°C. Grease and flour cake tins.
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until pale and fluffy.
Sift the Flour and Baking Powder together over egg and sugar mixture, gently combining all ingredients. (you can do this by hand or put mixer on low.
Add melted butter, a little at a time, and continue mixing on low – medium until completely combined.
Pour mixture, dividing in half between the two cake tins.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Turn cakes onto a wire rack to cool.
With a long sharp knife, cut the cakes in half to give 4 layers.
Take one of the middle layers and cut it into 1cm cubes and set aside.
THE PASTRY CREAM
In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch.
Transfer remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add pod.
Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar sink undisturbed to bottom. Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.
Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture. Return to saucepan over moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and whisk cream until smooth. Transfer to bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Pastry cream can be made ahead and refrigerated, wrapped well with plastic wrap on surface, up to 3 days.)
THE LIQUER SYRUP
Add Sugar & water to a clean heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in Grand Marnier. Cool to room temperature.
THE WHIPPED CREAM
Pour the cold cream into a bowl together with the sugar and beat until nice and thick.
Beat the Pastry cream until it returns to being smooth and creamy, then with a spoon, gently mix 1/2 of the whipped cream into the pastry cream.
Transfer to a sac-à-poche.
Save the other half of the whipped cream for the assembly.
TORTA MIMOSA: ASSEMBLY
Place your first sponge layer on your plate or cake stand.
Brush over the liquer syrup, followed by a layer of the pastry cream mix. If you prefer, use a cake ring to keep the cake layers even when building it up)
Place the second sponge layer on top and repeat with the syrup and pastry cream layers.
Place the third and final cake disc on top and repeat once again with the syrup and the rest of the pastry crem mix.
Cover the whole cake including the sides with the remaining whipped cream and smooth the surface with a spatula.
Ccover the entire surface with the cake cubes and dust with icing sugar.
*Variations – you can omit the pastry cream and just use whipped cream if you want a simpler version.