Gâteau Moka recipe for Mum! :)

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Special everyday cakes and treats

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!  🙂

Moka cake

Le Gâteau Moka

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!Le Cordon Bleu, ParisAnd the Eiffel Tower!

The cake-loving woman truly appreciated her mum’s help.  To this day she remembers arriving home with the pear charlotte,Pear charlottecaramelised pear meringue pie,Pear meringue piemogador chocolate mousse cake,

Mogadorchocolate and orange tartlets,

Chocolate and orange tartletsand boxes of croissants, brioches, pains au chocolat et raisins,Viennoiseriesto 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.Le Gâteau MokaBut 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!

Moka cake

Le Gâteau Moka

Ingredients

Génoise sponge

  • 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)

Genoise spongeSoaking syrup 

  • 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

Decoration

  • Chocolate coffee beans
  • Toasted flaked or toasted almonds

Method

  1. 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.Genoise sponge
  2. 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.Coffee syrup
  3. Make the coffee buttercream.
    Buttercream no.1

    (a) Dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat then bring to the boil till it reaches 117°C (soft ball stage). Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks till pale and fluffier. Cut the butter into pieces.

    Buttercream no.2

    (b) When the sugar syrup has reached soft ball stage immediately pour it over the egg yolks whilst whisking fast at the same time. You can place your bowl on the stand mixer to continue whisking, or whisk by hand, until the mixture has cooled down to tepid and the bowl isn’t warm. You need ‘ribbon’ stage where the batter is thick and fluffy, so that when it falls it forms a ‘ribbon’ on the surface.

    Buttercream no.3

    (c) Add the pieces of butter little by little and whisk in until they are combined in the mixture. If it splits you put your bowl over heat (bain marie or flame) and whisk till the mixture becomes smooth again (because everything is at the same temperature). Whisk in the coffee extract.

    French coffee buttercream

    French 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.

  4. Assemble the cake.
    Assembling the cake no.1

    (a) Find 2 books of equal thickness that come up to half-way up your cake and place on each side of the cake. Rest a long serrated bread knife on the two books and see-saw up and down to cut the cake in half (keep the knife resting on the 2 books as you move across).

    Assembling the cake no.2

    (b) Cut a cardboard circle the size of your cake and cover in aluminium foil. Place the top half of your cake upside-down on the circle.

    Assembling the cake no.3

    (c) Place the circle and top of cake on the palm of your hand so you can turn it while you brush with the coffee soaking syrup (twice all around). Pipe (with a number 8 nozzle) the coffee buttercream from the middle swirling outwards to the edge. My buttercream was a little too soft so it wasn’t very evenly piped (it needed some time in the fridge).

    Assembling the cake no.4

    (d) Now take the bottom half of the cake, which is flatter so will now be the top. Place on the palm of your hand and turn as you brush with the rest of the coffee extract. Don’t worry if there isn’t much (there’s less on the top half of the cake). Turn and place on top of the buttercream.

    Assembling the cake no.5

    (e) Place the cake on the palm of your hand again and spread buttercream with a flat metal spatula around the sides, while you turn the cake on your palm. It doesn’t have to be super even as you’ll cover this with the almonds.  Place the cake on a surface covered in paper.

    Assembling the cake no.6

    (f) Spread most of the remaining buttercream over the top of the cake with a flat metal spatula and a regular sweeping motion across the cake from one end of the other. Now clean the knife under very hot water so that the spatula is hot and pass it over the top again to smooth more. Finally, even out the sides again. The top edge might be imperfect but decorated over so it won’t show.

  5. 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!  🙂le Gâteau Moka
  6. 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!Moka cake at BargesThey voted for the Gâteau Moka when asked which cake they’d like for dessert..

Barges But getting back to the story.  Just a day or two later when the last little slice of Gâteau Moka was gone, the cake-loving woman’s mother suddenly looked very very sad.

‘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!’

Le Gâteau MokaHappy very belated mother’s day mum!!  Also for today, mother’s day in the USA and for last Sunday, mother’s day in Barcelona!!

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

Posted by

Making cakes with my French mother on Sundays was an important part of my childhood. As an adult I then experimented with baking books and internet recipes and did a great patisserie course in Le Cordon Bleu Paris. I'm still trying out new recipes and creating some of my own cakes with influences from all around the world, adding some healthy ones to the repertoire. Yes, I love cakes!!! :)

41 thoughts on “Gâteau Moka recipe for Mum! :)”

  1. This is a luxurious cake! Love the decoration and the layers of this cake! It is making me crave for a coffee cake right now! I like your cake assembly tips! Thank you, Lili!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sridevi for your lovely comments and you’re welcome … happy if any tips can be useful for you. And also glad you like this cake! Just finished it and already starting to crave some too!! 🙂

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  2. Lili – why don’t you live near me????
    I’m having a party on Saturday and apart from the fact I don’t have time, I couldn’t in a million years bake the way you do…. but if you lived near me then I could hire you to cater for me!!!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you … I’d love to cater for you Alba!!! I presume you spend your time doing other stuff, and not living in the kitchen like me! 🙂 But I’m sure you can bake some great cakes … Have a lovely party!! 🙂

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      • It’s my son’s 18th birthday and High School graduation party. It’s not really for him if I’m honest, it’s really a party for ME having survived his school years 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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  4. Lili, this cake looks amazing and has my favorite flavors in it. I popped over because I made my genoise today. It baked up as high as the top of my 9×13! I had a slight mishap removing it from the pan, but will be able to mask it. I plan on decorating it tomorrow. How do you recommend that I store it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Julie, What a coincidence!! I’ve just been getting things ready to make the genoise today too – this evening!! (All that cornflour!) And finishing off tomorrow of course 🙂 I usually store genoise sponge in an airtight tupperware container at room temperature. It’s perfect the next day. Good that yours baked up high! Have you tasted it yet?!

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      • Yes! I lost the side edge when removing it from the pan. I couldn’t let it go to waste you know :). Thank you for the recommendation for storage. I would just love to have attended cordon bleu. What an opportunity!

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 Glad you put all of your genoise to good use! 🙂 Mine’s in the oven right now! No worries. Yes, the Cordon Bleu was great… especially the opportunity to make cakes every day! 🙂

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  9. What an original way to keep your cake layers even, Lili, especially for people like me who don’t have the knack. I’m going to try it,

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great Mary! Let me know how it goes if you can… I always use this system now and it does help avoid the wonkiness I used to achieve. 🙂

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