Mocha Majolica

The decoration for this cake was inspired by the majolica porcelain stand on which it's placed. The mocha genoise is soaked with coffee syrup and iced lavishly with mocha buttercream tinted shades of blue, green, rose, and violet.

  • Servings: 12
Mocha Majolica

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February/March 1992


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pans
  • 2/3 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso granules, dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Coffee Syrup
  • Mocha Buttercream
  • Italian Meringue Buttercream
  • Food coloring, in blue, green, rose, and violet


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 6-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with buttered parchment paper, and dust with flour; tap out excess.

  2. Sift together flour and cocoa twice; set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add espresso mixture and vanilla, and keep warm over low heat.

  3. Bring a wide pan of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. In the detached bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs and sugar. Set bowl over the pan of simmering water, and whisk until the mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from heat, and transfer bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until tripled in bulk.

  4. Remove bowl from mixer. Sift flour-cocoa mixture over egg mixture in 3 additions, using a rubber spatula to fold batter quickly but gently after each addition. Scoop a cup of the batter into a small bowl, fold in hot butter mixture, and then fold back into rest of batter. Divide evenly among pans, and bake until a cake tested inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cakes will shrink away from sides of pan when done. Cool in pans 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

  5. To assemble cake: trim off the tops of two cake layers, leaving the third untrimmed (discard trimmings or save for snacking). Moisten cut sides of trimmed cake layers with coffee syrup. Top one trimmed layer with mocha buttercream. Add second trimmed layer; cover top with mocha buttercream. Top with untrimmed layer. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill until firm.

  6. Using a serrated knife, carve edges of top layer to make a dome shape. Frost cake with meringue buttercream. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill again until firm.

  7. Divide remaining meringue buttercream among five bowls. Tint four with rose, lavender, blue and green food coloring. Leave fifth plain; fill sixth bowl with mocha buttercream. Cover cake with lavender frosting, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill until firm. With a toothpick, trace six large shell shapes around cake. Using a pastry bag fitted with a #1 plain tip, pipe rows of plain, mocha, blue, and rose buttercream inside shells. Pipe a thick scalloped rose line on top of outlines. With a pastry brush, brush downward to blend inside colors. Using a #100 tip, pipe green lines between and over shells, overlapping on top of cake. Using a #70 leaf tip, pipe green and rose leaves on top. With the plain tip, pipe green vines around bottom. Using a #67 tip, pipe on leaves. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


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