This post is a bit overdue. On March 8, four weeks ago, Italian friends of mine came over for dinner. I had never heard of International Women’s Day (La Festa della Donna in Italy) before, but my Italian friends had enlightened me when we set that particular date for this cena. Mimosa has become the symbol of la Festa della Donna in Italy since the mimosa trees in Italy blossom in the first days of March, and so I decided to surprise my friends by baking a Torta Mimosa for dessert. As you can see, there is a clear resemblance between the cake and the mimosa blossoms.
Although the cake is made of sponge cake and pastry cream only, the effect is quite stunning and it tastes great as well. I made this cake using the recipe from GialloZafferano. Sponge cake is called Pan di Spagna in Italy (which indicates that this type of sponge cake actually originated in Spain), and is different from the sponge cake made in the Netherlands in that more egg yolks are used, making it very yellow.
For the Pan di Spagna (for 2 springform pans of 22 cm (9″) each)
8 egg yolks
220 grams (1 cup + 1 Tbsp) sugar
200 grams (1 1/4 cup) pastry flour, sieved
40 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch, sieved
butter and flour for buttering and dusting the springform pans
For the pastry cream
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) whole milk
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) whipping cream/heavy cream
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
8 egg yolks
55 grams (1/3 cup) flour
1/2 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
For the syrup
100 ml (.4 cup) water
50 ml (.2 cup) Cointreau or Grand Marnier
50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
For the whipped cream
200 ml (5/6 cup) whipping cream
20 grams (1/6 cup) icing sugar
Start by making the pastry cream. Pour 300 ml cream and 300 ml milk into a saucepan and heat it without letting it boil.
In a different saucepan off the heat, combine 8 egg yolks with 200 grams of sugar.
Stir to mix.
Add 55 grams flour.
Add the marrow scraped out of 1/2 a vanilla pod, or 1 tsp real vanilla extract.
Stir to mix.
Add the hot milk and cream mixture slowly, beating with a whisk.
Now turn on the heat to medium and cook the mixture, stirring, until it is nice and thick. Be careful that it doesn’t burn, but on the other hand allow it to become sufficiently thick (my pastry cream ended up a bit too thin).
Pour the pastry cream into a wide shallow container such as a lasagne dish to cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down the wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Put it in the refrigerator to cool off completely.
For the Pan di Spagna, put 4 eggs and 220 grams of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk.
Beat at high speed for about 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture is very fluffy.
Now add the egg yolks and beat for 5 minutes longer.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Turn off the mixer and remove the beater.
Add 200 grams of sieved flour and 40 grams of sieved potato starch.
Very gently fold in the flour, keeping as much air as possible in the batter.
Work from the bottom to the top with a spatula until all the flour has been incorporated.
Butter two 22 cm (9″) springform pans and dus them with flour.
Pour half of the batter into each of the two prepared pans.
Bake the Pan di Spagna for 30 minutes at 190C/375F or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. It is a good idea to start testing after 25 minutes or so, as the Pan di Spagna should be removed from the oven as soon as the toothpick comes out clean. If you leave it in longer, the sponge cake will turn out dry.
Meanwhile, combine 100 ml water, 50 ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier and 50 grams sugar in a saucepan to make the syrup.
Heat it, stirring, only as long as needed to allow all of the sugar to dissolve. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
When the pan di spagna is ready, turn it over on parchment paper or a clean work surface.
Remove the sides of the springform pan, and then remove the bottom. A knife can come in handy if needed to loosen the bottom.
Allow both pan di spagna to cool.
Once cool, cut away all of the dark crust and discard.
You can probably do a better job than I did in getting rid of all of the brown crust. Your torta mimosa will look prettier if you do.
One pan di spagna will be the base of the cake, whereas the other will be used to make the ‘mimosa’ decoration.
Cut one pan di spagna into three discs of equal thickness with a large serrated knife.
Cut the other one into cubes of about 1 cm (1/3 – 1/2 inch).
You can now see it looks like mimosa blossoms.
Whip 200 ml cream with 20 grams sugar until thick.
Loosen up the pastry cream with a spoon.
Add most of the whipped cream to the pastry cream, reserving about 6 tablespoons.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream.
Put the first layer of the base of the cake on a plate. If you like you can use the sides of the springform pan to make it easier to keep the cake straight. Drench the base of the cake with the syrup.
Spread out 2 tablespoons of whipped cream on top.
Spread out a layer of pastry cream.
Repeat with the other two layers. Then cover also the sides of the cake with the pastry cream. As you can see my pastry cream was a bit too thin, but the cake turned out fine anyway.
Decorate the cake with the ‘mimosa blossoms’.
Keep adding more until the cake has been completely covered.
Store in the refrigerator, covered by a cake dome. Best the same day.