By now we have all heard about the Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – keeping only those things that spark joy. Lesser known but still a “thing”, is Swedish Death Cleaning – cleaning in a way that makes death less of a burden to family as you would have cleared out a majority of your possessions – it’s a morbid take on Kondo, but it makes sense. In many ways these systems are ways of dealing with stress.   The stress of too much stuff, the stress of losing a loved one. But I have found a different way of handling my stress. A much tastier way….  let me introduce you to the therapeutic benefits of stress baking.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Stress Baking

Yes, when the pressure is on, I fire up the ovens and get baking. In 2004 when, after 86 years, the Red Sox were on the brink of winning the World Series, I churned out dozens and dozens of cookies. During last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, which featured my beloved Boston Bruins, my family would put in a nightly order because they knew I would be poised at the kitchen counter, unable to sit calmly on the couch for the game’s duration. I bake when I am working through a problem, when I am facing a challenge and yes, sometimes I even procrastibake. I like to be in the place where I find solace and calm: the kitchen. I think there is nothing more relaxing than baking.   The focus on measurements and the process, the promise that all of these ingredients will come together to make a gorgeous result.

And while my life is pretty low stress in general, the recent global events have not exactly been tranquil for an Italian travel expert. So with lots of free time and not a lot of places to go, my kitchen once again is my refuge.

This weekend I celebrated Festa della Donna by making the traditional mimosa cake. As I sifted the flour I thought of my amazing Italian friends and colleagues whose lives have been turned upside down and whose financial situations are in serious peril. Italy depends deeply on tourism. In my head I sent them all warm thoughts as the mixer churned away. I frosted the cake and thought of the many years I spent celebrating la festa della donna with girlfriends in Italy – drinking prosecco and eating mimosa cake.

We will celebrate again. Until then, here is the recipe for the mimosa cake if you are so inclined. Oh, and if you live within a 30-mile radius of me, put in your order. The baked goods will be a-coming!

Baci,
Ashley

Mimosa Cake

Recipe courtesy of Cooking with Nonna.

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mimosa cake

For the Pan di Spagna
 1 ½ cups All purpose flour or 00
 1 ½ cups Corn starch
 2 cups Sugar
 12 Large eggs
 1 tsp Vanilla extract
 Pinch of salt
For the Cream
 4 ½ cups Milk
 1 ½ cups Sugar
 ¾ cup Corn starch
 10 Egg yolks
 1 tsp Vanilla extract
 1 Lemon, peel only
 1 ½ cups Heavy crem
 2 tbsp Confectioners sugar
Other Ingredients
 1 ½ cups Champagne, prosecco or spumante
 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Make the Pan di Spagna
1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2

In a stand mixer mix the eggs, sugar, and salt together until ribbons form. This will take about 15-20 minutes minimum

3

In a bowl sift together flour and corn starch three (3) times. Sift the dry ingredients on top of the egg and sugar mixture little by little folding it in very carefully. Make sure you do this carefully so you don't deflate the egg mixture. Fold in the vanilla and pour into two greased 9-inch springform pans and bake for 40 minutes or until the center is firm.

4

Cool completely.

5

Once cooled trim the dark crusts from the top and sides of the cakes.

6

Slice one cake into three (3) layers about 1/2-inch thick. Slice the other cake into thin strips and slice the strips into small cubes. These will be used to decorate the cake.

Make the French Cream
7

In a bowl, mix the milk, beaten egg yolks, and vanilla.

8

In a pot, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

9

Put the pot on the stove at medium heat and add the milk mixture. With a wooden spoon start mixing continuously.

10

Add the lemon peel and stir continuously. After about 5-7 minutes the mixture will begin to thicken and form a custard.

11

Once thickened remove the pot from the flame, remove the lemon peel and continue to stir for another 30 seconds.

12

Cool off the custard by spreading it in a shallow baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic against the cream. This will prevent a skin from forming. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator or freezer until cool.

13

In a bowl add the heavy cream and powdered sugar and whip with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

14

Once cooled, add the whipped cream to the custard, reserving about 6 tablespoons. Whip the custard and whipped cream with an electric mixer for a smoother consistency.

Assemble the Cake
15

Line a glass bowl with plastic wrap. Press the first layer into the bowl and moisten with Champagne.

16

Spread a layer of the reserved whipped cream and follow with a layer of French cream. Top with strawberry slices.

17

Add the next layer of cake and moisten with Champagne. Spread a layer of French cream and follow with strawberries.

18

Add the final layer of cake and moisten with Champagne. Wrap the top of the bowl in plastic wrap and freeze for 2-3 hours.

19

Place a plate over the bowl and invert the cake. Unwrap and frost the cake with the remaining French cream.

20

Stick the cake cubes all over the cake. Top with sifted confectioners sugar. Chill before serving.

Ingredients

For the Pan di Spagna
 1 ½ cups All purpose flour or 00
 1 ½ cups Corn starch
 2 cups Sugar
 12 Large eggs
 1 tsp Vanilla extract
 Pinch of salt
For the Cream
 4 ½ cups Milk
 1 ½ cups Sugar
 ¾ cup Corn starch
 10 Egg yolks
 1 tsp Vanilla extract
 1 Lemon, peel only
 1 ½ cups Heavy crem
 2 tbsp Confectioners sugar
Other Ingredients
 1 ½ cups Champagne, prosecco or spumante
 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions

Make the Pan di Spagna
1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2

In a stand mixer mix the eggs, sugar, and salt together until ribbons form. This will take about 15-20 minutes minimum

3

In a bowl sift together flour and corn starch three (3) times. Sift the dry ingredients on top of the egg and sugar mixture little by little folding it in very carefully. Make sure you do this carefully so you don't deflate the egg mixture. Fold in the vanilla and pour into two greased 9-inch springform pans and bake for 40 minutes or until the center is firm.

4

Cool completely.

5

Once cooled trim the dark crusts from the top and sides of the cakes.

6

Slice one cake into three (3) layers about 1/2-inch thick. Slice the other cake into thin strips and slice the strips into small cubes. These will be used to decorate the cake.

Make the French Cream
7

In a bowl, mix the milk, beaten egg yolks, and vanilla.

8

In a pot, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

9

Put the pot on the stove at medium heat and add the milk mixture. With a wooden spoon start mixing continuously.

10

Add the lemon peel and stir continuously. After about 5-7 minutes the mixture will begin to thicken and form a custard.

11

Once thickened remove the pot from the flame, remove the lemon peel and continue to stir for another 30 seconds.

12

Cool off the custard by spreading it in a shallow baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic against the cream. This will prevent a skin from forming. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator or freezer until cool.

13

In a bowl add the heavy cream and powdered sugar and whip with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

14

Once cooled, add the whipped cream to the custard, reserving about 6 tablespoons. Whip the custard and whipped cream with an electric mixer for a smoother consistency.

Assemble the Cake
15

Line a glass bowl with plastic wrap. Press the first layer into the bowl and moisten with Champagne.

16

Spread a layer of the reserved whipped cream and follow with a layer of French cream. Top with strawberry slices.

17

Add the next layer of cake and moisten with Champagne. Spread a layer of French cream and follow with strawberries.

18

Add the final layer of cake and moisten with Champagne. Wrap the top of the bowl in plastic wrap and freeze for 2-3 hours.

19

Place a plate over the bowl and invert the cake. Unwrap and frost the cake with the remaining French cream.

20

Stick the cake cubes all over the cake. Top with sifted confectioners sugar. Chill before serving.

© L'Esperta, 2020
Mimosa Cake

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