Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mimosa Cake

On the occasion of International Women's Day on March 8, in Italy we are used to prepare this "mimosa" cake. The origin of this celebration dates back to 1908, when a group of New York textile female workers went on strike as a form of protest against the terrible conditions in which they were forced to work.
Strike continued for several days but it was on March 8 that the factory owner blocked the doors preventing female workers coming out. 129 women workers were mortally wounded in an arson, including some Italian women, who were simply trying to improve their quality of work. Therefore, March 8th is the International Women's Day in memory of that tragic day, in Italy this celebration is new as it's celebrated only after the postwar period. As a matter of fact, during the preparation of the first Women's Day in 1946, the feminists of the "Italian Women Association" chose the mimosa flower as the symbol of Women's Day, they wanted to give a floral touch to this event and chose the mimosa since it blooms during the first days of March, also it was easily available and because its intense yellow colour was a vitality symbol.
Probably mimosa cake was also created in that period because it is a cake covered with sponge cake pieces, resembling the mimosa flowers. There are several bakers who claim its authorship, however, it would seem that the mimosa cake' creator is a Roman female pastry chef, who invented this cake trying to reproduce the mimosa flower with the crumbled sponge cake sprinkled over the cake surface.
Since that day it is customary in Italy, that on Women's Day men give mimosa bouquets to women.
For this celebration I prepared my Mimosa Cake and would love to share it with all of you...


For the sponge cake
Flour 150 g (1/3 pound)
Sugar 150 g (1/3 pound)
4 eggs
a pinch of salt
1 Vanillin sachet
1 Lemon peel 
A teaspoon of baking powder

To sprinkle the sponge cake 
Water 150 ml (5 fl oz)
Sugar 65 g (1/3 cup)
1/2 liqueur glass of Strega liqueur (or other preferred liqueur such as Cointreau, limoncello etc.)
1 Lemon peel 

For the custard
2 egg yolks
Milk 500 ml (17 fl oz)
Sugar 200 g (7 oz)
Flour 70 g (2.5 oz)
1 Lemon peel
Whipping cream 300 ml (10 fl oz)

To complete and filling
a can of pineapple in syrup (optional)
Icing sugar to taste

Prepare the sponge cake: Beat the eggs with the sugar (picture 1), add a pinch of salt, the grated lemon rind (picture 2) and gradually the sifted flour, at last add the baking powder (picture 3). Pour the mixture into a 26 cm (10-inch) in diameter pie dish greased with butter and floured (picture 4), bake it in preheated oven at 160° C (325° F) for about 30 minutes (picture 5). Once cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool (picture 6).
Prepare the custard: mix the sugar with the flour, whisk the egg yolk and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add spoonfuls of sugar and flour mixture, if it becomes too stiff, add a dash of warm milk before continuing (picture 7).
 When you have worked in all the sugar and flour mixture, add the remaining milk, add the lemon peel and bring it to the boil over medium heat constantly stirring with a wooden spoon (picture 8), make it simmer for a few minutes then turn off the heat and remove the lemon peel otherwise the cream will have a bitter taste. Let it cool down stirring from time to time to avoid the forming of a crust on the surface. Whip the whipping cream until stiff and stirring from the bottom to the top with a wooden spoon, mix the custard in the whipped cream (picture 11). If you prefer mix in the pineapple cut into small pieces.
Prepare the liqueur syrup: Put the water, the sugar and the lemon rind in a small saucepan and put in on the burner, stir and bring it to the boil (picture 10), remove from heat and add the chosen liqueur. Leave it to cool. (If you chose to add the pineapples, you can also sprinkle the sponge cake with pineapples syrup).
Cut the sponge cake top, then gently remove the inner crumbs forming a pit in the lower part, keep the crumbs aside (picture 9), sprinkle the sponge cake with the previously prepared liqueur syrup (picture 12). Fill the lower part of the sponge cake with part of the cream, even it out (picture 13), put the top and spread the cake with the remaining cream (picture 14 and 15). Sprinkle the cake surface with the crumbled soft part. Put the cake in the refrigerator and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
Bon appetit!

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