Looking for layers and layers of sugary comfort right now? For art's sake, we tried making Claude Monet's favorite birthday cake, Le Gâteau Vert. This lemony pistachio layer cake is wrapped in vibrant green fondant icing colored with spinach (don't tell the kids), and was featured as the technical challenge on TV's The Great British Baking Show in 2018 (episode 2).
The recipe, taken from the artist's own notebooks, is also detailed in Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet by Claire Joyes.
Monet's birthday (November 14) must have been quite a fête because this cake is not easy to master, even with an Americanized ingredients list and a few hacks as presented in Bon Appetit. Before getting excited about baking it, consider the challenge of making marzipan and génoise sponge, plus spending a small fortune on pistachios. (If sourcing edible flowers proves difficult, replace the recipe's garnish with raspberries or other cake toppers.)
A day later, the green cake is done, and our rustic-looking version is delicious—moist, flavorful with no hint of spinach.
Monet largely preferred simpler recipes—fish soup, potato pie, strawberry mousse. Some 60 of his favorites are presented in The Monet Cookbook: Recipes from Giverny (2016) by Florence Gentner. Images of the dishes are shown alongside Monet's artwork and photographs of his life in Giverny, and the book offers a rich visual and culinary "escape." (Available from The Getty online store.)