Seen in every grande surface and pâtisserie this week, the traditional Gâteau Marie holds a special meaning for Christians celebrating the Assumption tomorrow, 15th August. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary marks to the ascent of the bodily form of the Mother of Jesus Christ into Heaven at the end of her life on Earth and is celebrated by Mauritian families around a lavish homemade meal. The Gâteau Marie serves as the centerpiece of most festive tables and is decorated with a sugarpaste figurine of the Virgin Mary.

The cake is typically a butter cake with a thick layer of white fondant but some bakers prefer sponge or mousse cakes for the occasion. For my cake base, I scaled down a pound cake recipe I had noted from a local TV show some years back. The frosting is swiss buttercream, neither too sweet nor too greasy and spreads like a charm. Since I had no sugarpaste for the figurine, I cheated with a handful of silver coloured sugar dragées but I guess they had a hard time covering up my amateurish piping skills.

GATEAU MARIE

Ingredients:

For the Butter Cake

175g unsalted butter

175g caster sugar

3 eggs + 2 egg yolks

1 tsp caramel extract

275g self raising flour

For the Buttercream Frosting

2 large egg white

100 g caster sugar

175g unsalted butter

1 tsp caramel extract

Blue food colouring

Silver sugar dragées

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 oF. Grease an 8-inch round baking pan, line base and sides with baking paper.
  • Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

  • Add eggs one by one, then add egg yolks, beat until mixture triples in volume. Add caramel extract.
  • Sift flour carefully into mixture and fold in with a large metal spoon until no flour streaks remain.

  • Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 oF for 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Stand cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning out. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

  • For meringue frosting, beat egg whites and sugar over a pan of simmering water till sugar dissolves.
  • Remove from heat source. Add caramel extract and continue to beat until stiff glossy peaks form.

  • Add butter, 2 tbs at a time, and beat until incorporated and mixture becomes thick and smooth.
  • Spread the cooled cake with a crumb coat of frosting before finishing with a second thicker layer.

  • Tint part of the buttercream frosting with blue food coloring and pipe a decorative border round the cake.
  • Garnish with sugar dragées. The unfrosted cake can be stored in foil for up to 1 week. Makes 15 servings.

Vive Marie!

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