Gâteau Moka recipe for Mum! :)

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


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


  • Chocolate coffee beans
  • Toasted flaked or toasted almonds


  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

Baking on Sundays with my French mum was a lovely part of my childhood. Later I experimented with baking books or internet recipes and did the pâtisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Still trying out new recipes and inventing cakes with influences from all around the world, including some healthier ones. Yes, love cakes!!! Hope you'll love them too and have fun baking. :)

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

  1. Pingback: Happy new year!!! Top posts in 2017 and baking projects for 2018… And how are healthier and vegan cakes doing? :) | lili's cakes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.