Kerstin Rodgers (@MSMARMITELOVER)
Being a mum is hard work, a marathon rather than a sprint, so I’ve come up with the perfect gift, comprising something homemade, something cakey and something alcoholic in a recipe for Champagne Cake.
For this Sunday, March 30th is both Mother’s Day and Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom. Ever wondered why the United States and the UK have different ‘mother’s days’? The Uk version is actually ‘Mothering Sunday’, a religious festival based on worshipping the mother church, the main parish church rather than the local ‘daughter’ church. Mother’s Day as a non-denominational celebration is an American invention, held on the second Sunday in May.
Traditionally on Mothering Sunday we give homemade cards, flowers, chocolates or cakes to our mothers. A simnel cake, a fruit cake with marzipan, was a classic offering, which, arriving in the middle of lent, was a brief relaxation during the lent fast. Another term for Mothering Sunday is Rose Sunday, when catholic clergy would wear rose-coloured vestments.
Gewurtraminer happens to my own mothers favourite wine. When I lived in grim poverty in Paris, mum would visit me and take me out for breath of luxury at the Art Nouveau restaurant Au pied de cochons situated near the old Les Halles market. She would order a platter of grilled parmesan mussels accompanied by this aromatic wine. Winetrust100 stocks Paul Cluver’s South African Gewurztraminer £12.
I met the maker Paul Cluver recently over a sun-dappled lunch at his restaurant in Elgin, near Cape Town. Dr Paul Cluver has had an incredible life: a former brain surgeon, now a farmer, wine producer and restaurateur. He’s also a carpenter, having made the large scale tropical wood furniture in his restaurant, and being currently interested in developing mountain bike trails. I came up with my theory that anyone can learn any job in about a month, including brain surgery. Not well, mind, but enough to get the basics. He gave me a 100 yard stare, but I’m sure he found it funny deep, deep down.
My other Mother’s Day suggestions include a delicate pink Moscato from Australia with a pretty label and a beer cap top at only £6 for half a bottle. I am recommending classically ‘pink’ girly wines but I realise there is a gender issue around the colour pink, what with toys being coloured pink, even toolkits and trainsets, if aimed at women and girls. However in Victorian times, pink was considered a strong vibrant male colour. I do like pink, it’s my favourite colour, but when it comes to alcohol, I’m fine with white, red or pink wines. Many women drink white wine because they are trying to avoid the ‘red moustache’ or stained teeth you get with red wine. So if your mum prefers white, I would suggest another wine associated with Alsace, but drier than Gerwurtraminer, an Argentian Riesling: at £8.50p or a South African Chardonnay at £12.
This is a champagne cake which tastes properly boozy using almost an entire bottle of prosecco in the batter and icing. It’s not too expensive at £10 and has a useful swingtop stopper so you can save the rest for later. (I keep all my swingtop bottles for water or for making homemade ginger beer, lemonade or elderflower champagne).
Accompany this cake with a bottle of pink bubbly Taltarni Taché from Australia (£16) and some dusky pink roses and you will be in your mum’s good books for the rest of the year.
You will need 3 x 9 inch sandwich cake tins. (If you only have two, then cook this recipe in batches). I would use a Prosecco – no point in using the good stuff for the cake.
225g unsalted butter
430g caster sugar
150g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
500ml of prosecco
2 tsps of vanilla paste
450g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp of baking powder
½ tsp of sea salt
500g icing sugar
250g unsalted butter
100ml of champagne
Champagne coloured disco glitter
Preheat the oven to 160º
Prepare the cake tins by putting in circles of parchment paper or by buttering, then lightly flouring, the insides.
Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugars. Beat for a couple of minutes then add the eggs, one by one, until fully incorporated into the mixture. Add the prosecco and the vanilla. At this point the mixture will look curdled but don’t worry, the flour will sort that out.
Making sure the flour has no lumps and fold it in with the bicarb, baking powder and salt. Make sure it is fully combined by folding carefully together. Then divide the mixture into thirds, pouring approx 500g per sandwich tin.
Bake for 25 minutes. Test to see if it is cooked by pressing down lightly with a finger. If the sponge springs back, it is cooked.
Leave to cool in the cake tins on a rack then flip over the cake tins onto the rack to cool further.
Make the buttercream icing by mixing the icing sugar, butter and champagne together until thick.
With a spoon, scoop the buttercream in between each layer of the cake. Do the same on top and smooth with a palette knife. Sprinkle the champagne coloured disco glitter on top.
*Next month: Easter, and what to match with eggs and chocolate.*