Mother’s Cake

by Jeanne

               Motherchild

The earliest Mother’s Day celebration is often traced back to the spring day celebrations in ancient Greece to honor Rhea, the mythical mother of the gods. However in the 1600s, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday" on the fourth Sunday of Lent. At that time, many of England’s poor worked as servants for the wealthy. Since most jobs were far from their homes, the servants live in the homes of their employers.

On Mothering Sunday, servants were given the day off and many went to spend the day with who else but mom.  Many would bring along a special cake called the Mothering Cake.

As Christianity spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world, the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church," the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time, the church festival blended with Mothering Sunday celebration. People began honoring their mothers and the church.

This cake is a simple flourless chocolate cake and was a long-time favorite of the now departed Queen Mum.

Image: Louis Toffoli

Mother’s cake

Yields One 9" Cake

½ c almonds; skinned
6 oz chopped semi-sweet Chocolate
¾ c granulated sugar
6 oz unsalted butter
6 large eggs– yolks and whites separated
1 tsp

fresh lemon juice 

½ c heavy cream
2 ts instant espresso powder
8 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate

CAKE

Toast almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 350F degree oven for about 15-minutes or until the almonds are lightly colored and fragrant. Make sure to shake the pan occasionally to turn almonds while toasting.

Pre-heat oven to 375F degrees. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Dust lightly with flour or very fine, dry bread crumbs. Shake out any excess and set prepared pan aside.

Warm chopped chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over warm water set at moderate heat. Cover until partially melted, then stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Reserve 1/2 cup sugar and place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the almonds in a food processor or blender and chop until nuts are fine and powdery. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter until soft. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and reserve the remaining 1/4 cup sugar for use later. Beat sugar and butter until thoroughly combined. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and blend on low speed until combined. Add almonds and continue to beat mixture on a low speed setting.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with salt and lemon juice. Start on low speed and gradually increase until the egg whites hold a soft shape. Reduce speed again and add remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Then on high speed, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture about one-third at a time until blended.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared springform pan an quickly rotate to level the batter. Bake for 20 minutes at 375F degrees, then reduce heat to 350F degrees and continue to bake an additional 50 minutes. Remove cake from pan when cooled, after about 1 hour.

ICING

Prepare the icing by scalding the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until a thin skin forms on the top. Add the espresso or coffee powder and whisk to dissolve. Add the chocolate and whisk to dissolve, for about a minute or two. Remove from heat and continue to stir to finish melting the chocolate. Let icing cool for about 15-minutes, then pour over the top of the cake, starting at the center. Gently push the icing with a spatula over the sides to dribble down the cake.

Top with shaved chocolate, or whipped cream just prior to serving. Strawberries on the side make a nice spring touch.

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