Tiramisu Cake

by Melissa on June 18, 2009

I love, love, love tiramisu! If it is on the dessert menu at any given restaurant, I am guaranteed to order it. The espresso soaked lady fingers layered with the sweet, creamy mascarpone filling is heaven on a plate for me. I have been wanting to make this cake since I first got Baking: From my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, but never really had a chance or reason to do so.

When I was recently asked to make dessert for an Italian themed meal, I knew this was my opportunity. I love how this cake came out. The cake itself soaks up the espresso syrup without becoming soggy and the mascarpone frosting has just a hint of coffee flavor that blends perfectly with the cocoa on top. I would highly recommend this cake, and plan on making it again when I get the chance.

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Tiramisu Cake

For the Cake

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

 For the Espresso Extract

  • 2 tbs. instant espresso powder
  • 2 tbs. boiling water

For the espresso syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs. amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy

For the filling and frosting

  • 1 8-oz. container mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 ½ oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about ½ cup store bought mini chocolate chips

Getting ready: 
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake:
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled.
Reduce the mixer speed to low  and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool then for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

To make the extract:
Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.

To make the syrup:
Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.

To make the filling and frosting:
Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth. Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

Assembling the cake:
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper.Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – use about 1 ¼ cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup. Then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup. 

For the frosting, whisk 1 to ½ tbs. of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks like it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake, too.

With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate covered espresso beans, press them into the frosting, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld. Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.

The letters on the cake are the initials of the person this cake was made for. I made them by piping melted chocolate on to parchment parchment paper and letting them harden before transferring to the cake.

Source: Baking: From my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. I would also highly recommend checking out My Baking Adventures for step by step pictures of assembling the cake.

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