On la festa della donna, which is the 8th of march, it is common to give a small sprig of mimosa to female friends, as it is a symbol of strength. I love the beautiful small fluffy yellow blossoms. This torta mimosa, or lemon cream cake, is traditionally fully covered in cake crumbs to resemble the mimosa, but in this recipe i have just sprinkled them on the top, as i like the look.
Serves 10 – 12
For the cake
– melted butter, for greasing
– 9 eggs, separated
– 225g caster sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 225g plain flour
– 50g potato flour
– 3 tsp baking powder
For the lemon custard cream
– 550ml milk
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 strips of lemon rind
– 7 egg yolks
– 120g caster sugar
– 180ml single cream
– 3 tbsp limoncello
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Line the base of 3 x 20cm loose-bottomed round cake tins with baking parchment. Brush the sides with melted butter and dust with flour.
2. To prepare the cake, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.
3. Sift the flours and baking powder into a bowl and then fold into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold the egg whites through with a metal spoon.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins and bake for 20 minutes, until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the tins before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before assembling.
5. To make the custard cream, heat the milk, vanilla extract and lemon rind in a medium saucepan to just below boiling point. In a separate large bowl, cream the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale.
6. Whisk a little hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and then pour in the rest, briskly whisking all the time. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and gently cook over a low heat. Stir until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Stir from time to time while it cools to prevent a skin from forming. Remove the lemon rind strips.
7. Pour the cream into a medium bowl and whisk to form stiff peaks. Fold the cream into the custard and set aside.
8. To assemble, place one layer of cake onto a cake stand or plate. Using a small knife, cut the cake 1cm from the outer edge and 2cm deep and scoop it out. Reserve this cake for the topping. Repeat for a second layer.
9. Pour some limoncello evenly over the scooped-out cake layers. Spoon one-third of the lemon custard cream over the bottom layer, then place the other scooped-out cake layer on top and cover with one-third of the cream. Place the last layer of cake on top and spread with the rest of the lemon custard cream. Break up the pieces of cake that were scooped out into crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the cake to resemble mimosa flower blossoms.
Her new cookbook, Bake Like an Italian is packed with sweet and savoury baking recipes, including original ideas for everyday homemade breads, sweet treats for special occasions and small mouthfuls that go perfectly with a delicious cup of coffee.
While travelling in Italy researching this cookbook Catherine discovered that it is the nuns who were the guardians of Italian baking. The convents competed against each other to create the finest breads and pastries to please the priests. Produced on religious holidays and presented as gifts to priests and noble families, these recipes eventually became tradition in homes all over Italy.
Catherine Fulvio is the proprietor of the Ballyknocken House & Cookery School, Co Wicklow and one of Ireland’s top television culinary stars. Her previous books Catherine’s Italian Kitchen, Catherine’s Family Kitchen, Eat Like an Italian and The Weekend Chef were all bestsellers.
Bake Like an Italian is published by Gill Books, and is available to buy on www.gillbooks.ie.