This cake is to make it up to mum for some of those British Mother’s Days in March that passed me by because where I was living it was celebrated in May! Le Gâteau Moka is a very special cake for the French and mum in particular, as you’ll see in a little story I’ll be telling you later. It was invented in 1857 in Paris and named after Mocha, the Yemenese port city and famous major marketplace for coffee. Now you might not always find the Moka cake in a French patisserie as it belongs to an older generation who wore aprons and cleaned the floor with their feet and a rag. So mention le Gâteau Moka to an over-60-year-old in France and their face will probably light up as they remember it from their childhood. It’s a light and delicate genoise sponge imbibed with coffee syrup, filled and covered with a layer of delicious coffee buttercream. This is the classic version that could be revisité! 🙂
You may be familiar with the story of the cake-loving woman who fulfilled her dream to do a Cordon Bleu basic patisserie course in Paris. And her pink cloud of cake euphoria wasn’t burst even when some chefs shouted a little. Ahem. To be fair she and her cake-making companions all felt they were learning so much and were very grateful to all the chefs.
In fact they were producing such enormous mounds of cakes daily that the cake-loving woman’s mother agreed to visit a while and help her daughter eat her way through this mountain. They both lived happily in a little rented flat from which you could actually see the Cordon Bleu school!And the Eiffel Tower!
and boxes of croissants, brioches, pains au chocolat et raisins,to be greeted by enthusiastic ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from her mum who then promptly helped diminish the pile that was rapidly accumulating, as well as some extra cakes bought in pâtisseries!Then one day came la pièce de résistance, the Gâteau Moka, and her mother was absolutely delighted! ‘I remember this cake from my childhood!’ she exclaimed as she had a third slice. She took her cake-eating responsibilities very seriously.But the following day her mother had that slightly guilty look on her face. ‘I think I’ll visit your cousin today and give her some of the cake! There’s quite a lot of butter in it!’ Her daughter, who’d been bulk eating and giving away cake for almost a month, agreed whole-heartedly and so off her mother went with more than half the cake. Later she told her daughter how delighted the cousin and her family had been with it!
You’d think this would be the happy ending to the story, wouldn’t you? But no, and there’s a moral coming up later. I’ll just give you the recipe now while I remember!
Recipe (for a 20cm diametre cake tin) – takes around 2 hours to make and bake. It’s based on our Cordon Bleu basic course recipe, adapting the quantities so there’s less of the rich buttercream and soaking syrup!
- 4 medium-sized eggs (about 230g)
- 125g/a half cup plus 1 tbsp caster/superfine sugar (I use golden caster sugar)
- 125g/1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
- 15g/1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- knife tip of vanilla powder (optional)
- 72 g/a third of a cup minus a teaspoon and a half water
- 67g/a third of a cup minus a generous half tbsp caster sugar or granulated sugar
- 9g/half a tbsp coffee extract (eg. Camp coffee extract) or make your own coffee extract
Coffee butter cream
- 5 medium-sized to large egg yolks (about 100g)
- 165g/three-quarters of a cup minus half a teaspoon caster sugar
- 75g/a third of a cup minus a teaspoon water
- 262g/1 cup good-quality unsalted butter at room temperature
- 14g/half a tbsp plus a tsp coffee extract
- Chocolate coffee beans
- Toasted flaked or toasted almonds
- Make the genoise sponge in a 20cm diametre round tin. Butter and flour the mould and preheat the oven to 180°C (static, non-convection oven) or 160°C (fan-assisted oven). Follow the genoise sponge recipe in the basics section. Let the sponge cool before filling. You can make it the previous day or two then keep in airtight tupperware or wrapped tightly in plastic film.
- Make the coffee soaking syrup. Dissolve the water and sugar in a small pan over a low heat (stir a little) then increase the heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Then stir in the coffee extract.
- Make the coffee buttercream.
If the buttercream is soft then place in the fridge for a while. If hard then put over heat again. Have it at a good spreading consistency for the next step.
- Assemble the cake.
- Piping – with the remaining buttercream pipe a pattern on top of your cake with swirls on the outside edge. The design is a classic Moka Cake style if you want to copy it or invent your own. Instead of chocolate coffee beans you could use chocolate drops or chopped almonds. I wasn’t having a great decorating day and it’s not very symmetrical but it could be worse! 🙂
- Chopped or flaked toasted almonds – put the cake on the palm of your right hand and with the palm of your left hand lightly press in the chopped or flaked grilled/toasted almonds on the sides as you turn the cake on your palm.
Here’s one I made last year for my family in France, who loved the fact I was doing the course and talking cakes with them!They voted for the Gâteau Moka when asked which cake they’d like for dessert..
‘What’s wrong?’ asked the cake-loving woman.
‘I miss the Gâteau Moka’ replied her mother.
‘Are you sorry you gave the cake away?’ asked the woman, concerned but ever so slightly amused.
‘Well,’ her mother hesitated. ‘Maybe a little!’
So the moral of the story is that if you make le Gâteau Moka be careful not to give too much away because you might regret it later!! 🙂
And here’s the happy ending:
‘Don’t worry mum, I’ll make you another one!’
And happy mother’s day to all mothers out there and to everyone with a mother! This Gâteau Moka is for everyone basically! Wishing you all happy baking, eating and memories to treasure! 🙂 x