Monday, March 7, 2011

Torta Mimosa

March 2011 174 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.

March 2011 165 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.

March 2011 194 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 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.

March 2011 188

Torta Mimosa

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.


  1. Being an uomo, I suppose I couldn't get a taste of this, huh?

  2. So pretty! It really looks divine. A wonderful torte.



  3. Happy International Woman's Day, Linda! This is a lovely tradition and I'm happy your found the Mimosa flower corsages to give to your good friends.

    Your Mimosa cake looks beautiful! It would also make a wonderful Easter treat.

  4. I could never resist anything as sunny as that. It's in my future. My near future (mimosas in MN - not happening). Love the photo of all the beatutiful women! A playwright friend of mine in Princeton has filled me in on your Day of Pi. Wish I was there. (It's been snowing - I really wish I was there).

  5. Beautiful mimosa flowers! Henry says they are usually pink, no?
    I love this festa! I need to become an honorary Italian.
    Maybe a Pi day visit is in order on Sunday!

  6. Oh Linda, this is beautiful! My Calabrian cousin sent me her recipe and never having seen the cake I didn't know if I was correct. I pleased to say it looks just like yours. I will make it again! Your chit chat group looks wonderful! I wish I could join!

  7. What a great looking dessert. And Happy International Woman's Day!

  8. What a special gift you gave to your friends, the effort you put into finding the flowers and making the cake were so thoughtful, I'm sure they were so appreciated. I'm rooting for you, I hope you win the pie contest!

  9. Looks lovely! I think Shrove Tuesday is much bigger here in the UK than celebrating women's strength and independence, although having lived elsewhere is Europe I know it is normally marked with special marches and speeches etc.

    I have been lurking around reading your blog for well over a year and love it :)

  10. Buona festa della donna! Popping over from Anne's FB page post. We have beautiful mimosa trees where we live.

  11. Accademia Barila recipes are the best! Felice 8 marzo a te Linda.

  12. Today and every day is a grewst day to celebrate women with this lovely cake Linda.

  13. Giving these bursts of sunshine to our fellow women is such a beautiful ritual...I'm missing my BF right now.
    When she gets back form vacation...I'll have to make this ravishing the ingredients.
    Thanks for sharing your warmth as well as your sweets ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  14. I do wish we would observe International Women's Day in the US. A friend of mine who does a lot of international humanitarian aid makes me so aware of the need!

    My grandmother had a mimosa tree in her yard, but I'm afraid I'm not getting a flower any time soon. Someone needs to give me this cake.

    Wait! No one ever bakes for me. I have to do it myself. That's okay. It looks worth the effort.

    I have to admit I saw the recipe and thought this cake would somehow involve champagne and OJ. :-D

  15. Somehow I've never heard of this holiday before but I love the idea of having a day to celebrate women! This cake looks absolutely delicious!

  16. And a very happy International Women's Day to you too! You have gone through such a lot in recent times. Strength and Inspiration! (Your'e right, it is a big deal over here. The restaurants are full of women wearing mimosa flowers. I guess the men are all at home cooking and babysitting.) Fabulous cake!

  17. Congratulations, Linda. How exciting to make the top 10.

    And Happy Woman's Day to you too. I love the tradition of giving mimosa flowers and your cake is a very special treat. I don't know what I would do without the support of my wonderful women friends. They are truly one of life's great blessings.

  18. Happy International Women's Day and what a lovely way to celebrate.

  19. Happy Women's Day! This cake looks fantastic, can't wait to try out the recipe!

  20. What a beautiful way to celebrate women! Happy Int'l Womens day to you Linda!

    That torte is just gorgeous! I would love a bite!

    I have my fingers crossed that you win the contest! You deserve it!

  21. This is a beautiful torte. It brings sun to the table. I hope everyone has been able to celebrate International Woman's Day in one way or another. Have a great evening. Blessings...Mary

  22. Love your cake and the mimosa surrounding it! It reminded me of the mountain in Lebanon that get literally covered in mimosa in the Spring; what a lovely tradition!

  23. Auguri per la festa delle donne!!
    I love the cake!

  24. Happy belated Festa della Donna, which by the way, fell on the same day as Carnevale here so it was a big mess, LOL.
    Always great recipes and fantastic shots here.
    Let us know how you did with your top 10 crostata di Alessandra!
    In bocca al lupo!!!

  25. I've never heard of Torta Mimosa, but it looks, and sounds, unforgettable!

  26. Bellissima ed anche molto buona la tua torta mimosa, complimenti. Un abbraccio Daniela.

  27. Wow buonissima e bellissima la torta mimosa! Thank you for sharing! I'm following from Italy! :)

  28. Wow, this looks scrumptious and I love your presentation. Your Italian ladies were in for a treat...lucky girls!

  29. Well I just learned something new about our Italian culture from your blog, Linda! What a great day to celebrate and how lovely in the way that it is celebrated. This cake is simply beautiful and I can't wait to make this. Grazie, grazie! Roz

  30. I would dig in this beautiful cake. Looks creamy and yummy.

  31. Saw the link on Food Lover's Odyssey! This looks perfect for the spring. Bookmarking the recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  32. A wonderful recipe. I tried it yesterday and it was a very big success. It is now part of my repertoire – as is, as well as in its separate elements - the sponge cake recipe is the best I've ever found – well worth getting the potato starch for. And the pastry cream has just the right ratio in everything. Thank you so much for posting it!

  33. What a lovely cake! And such a perfect way to celebrate female friendships and International Women's Day ~ thank you so much for posting it!

    ~ marie, the EpicureanPiranha

  34. What a gorgeous cake. I adore kirsch, sponge cake and cream fillings. Therefore I see Cake Love happening here. Plus any day that celebrates women, no matter what country, is alright with me.