March 8th, a celebratory date known as International Women’s Day. A commemorative date honoring women ranging from general celebration of respect, appreciation, and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements.
In Italy, it is on this day that women are gifted with bright blossoms known as mimosa flowers. These bright yellow branches were chosen as the symbol for women’s day back in 1964, when the Italian Women’s Association was preparing for their first women’s day event. Wanting to add a floral touch to their festivities they selected the mimosa which blooms during the first days of March and whose intense citrine hue is a symbol of joy and vitality. In addition to the gifting of the golden bouquets, this feast day is also celebrated with a confection bearing the same name.
Mimosa cakes can be found in bakeries and pastry shops throughout Italy in endless varieties. It is a layered sponge cake, filled with pastry cream and Chantilly cream, whose surface is sprinkled with crumbled sponge so that it resembles the mimosa flower. It is often said to be a delicate and very elegant, just like a woman!
There are several stories about the origins of the Mimosa cake with several bakers claiming its authorship however the most common of these seems to link the dessert to a Roman female pastry chef who invented the cake trying to reproduce the mimosa flower. However varied its history may be, this light and airy cake is a delicious tradition, and one which I have adapted and turned into my own. Rather than make a large domed cake, I prepare mini mimosa cakes allowing all the wonderful women in my life to be able to indulge in their own. Buon Appetito and Happy Women’s Day!
For the Cake
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon rosewater
- Zest of one orange
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 1/2 cups of flour
For the Pastry Cream
- 4 eggs
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- Pre-heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour two jumbo muffin tin pans.
- Beat on medium-low speed eggs and sugar until well mixed (1-2 minutes) add rosewater, orange zest, flour and baking powder and continue to beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Pour into the muffin tins bake for approximately 20 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean and dry. Let the mini cakes cool completely.
- Cut a hole into the top of each mini cake and create a hallow in the centre. Reserve the pieces that have been removed and cut them into small cubes or crumbs and set aside.
- For the filling, combine the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 hours.
- Place the cooled pastry cream into a piping bag and fill the hole created in each of the mini cakes making sure to overfill them leaving cream at the top of the cake to which the crumbs will adhere.
- Top each mini cake with the cubes or crumbs set aside earlier and refrigerate for several hours. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!