How many times have you walked into a French pastry shop and bypassed all those beautifully sculpted slices of cake and gone straight for the eclairs or the macarons? It's like who needs jello when one can have ice cream!
Let's face it, if we had them around the corner perhaps eventually we would work ourselves to the gateaux but when it's a special treat, like it usually is, they are just not worth it, or so we think. Now making them at home is another matter...for there is nothing more delicious than a mocha gateau.
The cake is basically very easy to make, don't be put out by the length of the recipe. I just broke down the ingredients by steps. What also makes it look complicated is all the frou frou on top which is something that is up to you. You start with a genoise which is the simplest of cakes, make a simple coffee syrup and top with a buttercream. If you don't want to pipe the frosting and make fancy decorations, you can just spread the buttercream all over and just coat the sides with almonds. Add a few chocolate shavings on top.
The cake does not come out as tall as the photo above. What I did was double the buttercream frosting so I had enough to put about and inch between the layers and enough leftover to pipe some on tod edge as shown above.
As I was comparing my recipe to others on the net, I came across this interesting tidbit, most appropriate for the times we live in..
Mocha or Mokha (Arabic: المخا [al-Mukhā]) is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Until it was eclipsed in the 19th century by Aden and Hodeida, Mocha was the principal port for Yemen's capital Sana'a.
Mocha is famous for being the major marketplace for coffee from the 15th century until the 17th century. Even after other sources of coffee were found, Mocha beans (also called Sanani or Mocha Sanani beans, meaning from Sana'a) continued to be prized for their distinctive flavor—and remain so even today. From this coffee the English language gained the word mocha, which is now used for combinations of chocolate and coffee flavors as cafe mocha.
It is commonly believed that the coffee bean that originated in the port city of Mocha was encountered by Marco Polo on his trip through the Arab World. After the month and a half of Polo's turbulent journey, his party were forced to go ashore at Ṣūr (modern-day Tyre, Lebanon) to resupply their stocks, because the captain, William Maurice, had provided insufficient room for food storage. In the marketplace there, Polo found a Yemenite salesman who had brought coffee beans from Mocha, purchased some and ultimately returned with them (among many other imports) to Europe. However, the bean was not widely known through Europe until the 17th century.
In 1595 Spanish Jesuit missionary Pedro Páez was the first European to taste Mocha's coffee in place.
Its importance as a port was also due to the Ottoman Empire law that required all ships entering the Red Sea to put in at Mocha and pay duty on their cargoes.
At present, Mocha is no longer utilized as a major trade route and the current local economy is largely based upon fishing and small amounts of tourism. The village of Mocha was officially relocated 3 kilometers west along the Red Sea shore to accommodate the building and demolition of several coastal highways.
The term "mocha" in relation to chocolate and coffee–chocolate blends is strictly as a result of European influence. Chocolate is not cultivated at Mocha nor imported into it.---From Wikipedia
Click here for more on the history of coffee and Yemeni coffee in particular
French Patisserie Moka Gateau
For the genoise or sponge cake:
225g /1 cup sugar
225g /1 cup flour
15g / 1/2 oz butter
an 8 inch cake pan
For the coffee syrup
100g / 4ozs granulated sugar
75ml / 3 flozs water
2 tablespoons very strong black coffee
2 tablespoons rum
For the butter cream*
150g / 5 ozs granulated sugar
75ml / 3 ozs water
2 egg whites
225g / 8ozs unsalted butter
10g / 1/2 oz vanilla sugar
50g / 2 ozs toasted almonds.
To make the Genoise cake:
Heat the oven to 160c or 325f.
Butter the cake pan.
Place a bowl in a pan of warm water keep it on a low heat do not let it boil.
Place the eggs into the bowl. Add the sugar and beat until double in volume and warm to the touch.
Remove from the heat and beat until cold.
Beat in the sifted flour and place into a buttered tin.
Bake for 18 to 20 mins when cooked remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack
To make the sirop au cafe:
Boil the sugar and water together over a medium heat for 5 mins.
After boiling point is reached allow to cool a little and add the coffee and rum
To make the creme au beurre:
Cook the sugar and water until the syrup formed registers 220c on a sugar thermometer.
Or drop a little in cold water, a soft ball should be formed.
Beat the egg whites to a stiff peak. Slowly add the boiling syrup in a fine stream.
Beating constantly until the mixture is cold.
Soften the butter in a warm bowl work in the vanilla sugar.
Fold the egg whites in and add a few drops of coffee essence
*Double the buttercream recipe to have enough to pipe some decorative edges
Cut the cake across horizontally and sprinkle the cut side with the coffee syrup. Let it absorb
Spread the bottom half with the creme au beurre and place the top of the other half.
Spread the top and the sides of the cake with the creme au beurre.
Reserve a little for the decoration.
Chop the almonds and press them thickly around the sides of the cake.
Pipe the remaining cream around the top of the cake.
Chill lightly for 12 hours before serving.
Photos: Google and A Taste of France