Leave it to the Italians to come up with a truly pretty cake to celebrate women. The Mimosa Cake, or Torta Mimosa, is a traditional dessert served on International Women's Day in Italy, layering a liqueur-soaked cake with lemon curd and whipped mascarpone. Celebrated around the world on March 8th, International Women's Day is largely a political holiday, but the Festa della Donna, as it is known in Italy, has come to be observed as a day for women to spend time together celebrating their friendships and accomplishments. Part of the tradition involves giving women small bouquets of mimosa flowers, a pretty little yellow spring flower, so the Mimosa Cake is topped with small cubes of cake, meant to resemble these tiny flowers.
I love the idea of women getting together to celebrate each other, and having some cake to go with it sounds just about right. My Southern version of the Mimosa Cake starts with a lemon buttermilk cake and my Extra-Puckery Lemon Curd — it's also just a lovely springtime dessert for Mother's Day or special birthdays. Enjoy!
Makes 1 9-inch layer cake (or 4 individual 3-inch layer cakes)
for the Lemon Buttermilk Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-3/4 cups sugar
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
for the filling and topping:
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup limoncello liqueur
1 cup lemon curd
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper and set aside. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium for about 5 minutes, until creamy. Sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl and then mix together the buttermilk, eggs and lemon zest and juice in another bowl. When the butter and sugar are creamy, add the dry and wet ingredients in thirds, alternating each one. Stir until well-combined.
Evenly divide the batter into the two cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake springs back lightly and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted near the center of the cake. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
When the cakes are cooled, carefully slice them in half horizontally so that you now have four 9-inch layers; set one layer aside. At this point, you can either assemble the cake as one full 9-inch cake or you can use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out 12 circles total from three of the layers.
Put the mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla into a mixing bowl and whip until peaks begin to form.
Take the one layer of the cake that you set aside and cut it into small cubes, about the size of salad croutons.
To assemble a full 9-inch cake, place one layer, cut side up, on a serving plate and brush some limoncello onto the entire surface of the cake. Spread 1/2 of the lemon curd across the entire layer, then top with 1/3 of the whipped cream. Repeat with the second layer, then top with the third cake layer, cut side up, and brush again with the limoncello. Take the remaining whipped cream and spread across the top, curving it slightly so that it is a little higher in the center than it is at the edges. Take the little cake cubes and place them all over the whipped cream, pushing them in lightly with your finger so they don't fall off. Dust the entire top of the cake lightly with confectioner's sugar and then chill for 15 minutes before serving.
Carla's Shortcut: Want to celebrate the women in your life but feeling crunched for time? You can make this with a vanilla cake mix (just add 1/4 cup each of lemon juice and lemon zest) or even a storebought plain cake, prepared lemon curd (found in most grocery stores with the jams and jellies), and just plain old whipped cream, lightly sweetened. Your girlfriends will love it!