Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert that has been made a thousand different ways. It's well-loved and on many a menu. But as delicious as it is, it just doesn't slice pretty, so I wanted to make a Tiramisu cake! Layers of fluffy vanilla sponge soaked in fresh espresso and amaretto with lashings of mascarpone cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.
I mentioned in my Banoffee Pie post that whenever guys came into the bakery they would always choose one of two cupcake flavours for themselves, banoffee or tiramisu. They just seem to be the favourite among the gents, so tiramisu cake was always a big seller for Fathers day.
Tips for making the perfect Tiramisu Cake
Make sure the cake layers are flat and even
Tiramisu cake is all about the layers, so you want to make sure they are even so you can that striking look when you slice into the cake. My best tips for this are:
- Make sure the batter starts out level when it goes into the oven
- Let cakes cool completely before attempting to slice
- Use a cake leveler for both cutting the domes off the top and for cutting the cakes in half. I picked up this cake leveler for five bucks and I use it on every single cake I make - it makes every layer turn out perfectly level and even!
Making the Mascarpone Cream
The mascarpone cream is my favourite part of this tiramisu cake. It's just.. mwuah! Make sure your mascarpone is at room temperature before you start, as this will allow it to mix together much more easily. My recipe says to use 4 tablespoons of amaretto (or whatever alcohol you choose), but you should do this to taste, I literally just added another tablespoon and another until I was happy with how it tasted, but you may like a little more or a little less.
The egg yolks in this recipe are raw, personally I am fine with this and with modern-day farming processes I have never experienced any problems using raw eggs in my recipes. However, if you are concerned about eating raw eggs or are pregnant or need to take extra care in this area, you can still make this recipe, just put the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and bring them to 70°C / 160°F before removing from the heat and continuing to whisk as normal. This cooks the eggs and removes any potential risk.
Unlike the mascarpone, it's best if the whipping cream comes right from the fridge before whipping, this will allow it to whip thicker and faster.
Soaking the Cake with Espresso and Amaretto
This is another area where your personal taste and preference come into play. If you are unsure how much coffee and amaretto you want to use in your tiramisu cake, I find it useful to take some of the discarded cake from cutting off the domes and brush some of the mixture onto that to see how generously I want to soak it. Keep in mind it will taste stronger there than in the finished cake as it will have had time to soak through the entire layer overnight, so test it to the point that it's a bit stronger than you would like it in the end result.
If you have access to fresh espresso, that is best for the strong coffee kick, but if not, instant espresso powder dissolved in hot water will also do the trick. I don't have an espresso machine at home but I do have a Starbucks down the street, so I went in there and asked them for 8 shots of coffee all in a cup - they looked at me like I was a madwoman - especially since it was 6:30pm! I did have to tell them it was for a tiramisu cake so they didn't think I was crazy.
Do you have to use alcohol?
Tiramisu cake can be made so many different ways, including with any type of alcohol you feel like - or even with no alcohol at all! If you want to leave it out just make the recipe entirely as normal, just without the booze, there's no need to substitute anything here. I always use Amaretto in my Tiramisu, personally, I think it's the only way to go, but it's also popular to use Kahlua or dark rum. Specifically, in this tiramisu cake I used Disaronno as I love the almondy taste it gives the cake - but whatever. you fancy will work well!
Assembling and Decorating Tiramisu Cake
Assembling this tiramisu cake is pretty satisfying and somewhat therapeutic. Seeing all the layers come together is a lot of fun - thought not as fun as when you slice into it and see the result!
It's best to have everything in front of you, ready to go before you begin, as there are a lot of components here. Before you start make sure you have:
- Four even, flat cake layers
- A cake plate or board - whatever you want your cake to sit on
- Your prepared mascarpone cream - keep refrigerated until ready to use
- Small spatula or knife to spread the mascarpone cream with
- Your coffee/amaretto soak and a brush
- Cocoa powder and a small sieve
Once you have all this ready, you're good to start building your tiramisu cake! Start with a layer of cake on your board, soak it in the coffee/amaretto mix (or just coffee if you prefer to leave the alcohol out). If you're not sure how much soak to use, see my tips above on taste testing the amounts. Once the layer is fully soaked, spread a dollop of mascarpone cream on top and smooth it out evenly. Take your cocoa powder and put it in a small sieve and dust the layer with cocoa. I actually didn't have a small sieve sitting around so I used one of those little loose leaf tea holders and it worked like a charm!
Repeat this process for every layer until the top layer, after spreading mascarpone cream on the top layer, don't dust it with cocoa just yet. Take more mascarpone cream and spread it all over the top and sides of the tiramisu cake, smoothing it out as you go. The mascarpone cream is very soft and goes on a lot more easily than frosting does, so be gentle with it. If it gets too soft to work with, put the cake and the bowl of mascarpone cream back in the fridge for ten minutes before continuing.
Once done, put the whole cake in the fridge to let all those lovely flavours soak in. It's best if left overnight, but anything from four hours will do. Make sure you save the remaining mascarpone cream so you can decorate the top. Once you're ready to serve your tiramisu cake, remove from the fridge and dust the whole of the top in cocoa powder, then decorate with piped mascarpone cream and coffee beans.
How to Store Tiramisu Cake
Most cakes and baked goods hate the fridge, I feel like I never stop telling people not to put cake in the fridge, but in this case, it should be in there! The mascarpone cream will go very soft and droopy if you don't keep this chilled so make sure it's in there right up until you serve. If there are any leftovers (which, there probably won't be, because.. yum!), pop those in the fridge too, preferably in something airtight to stop the fridge from drying out the sponge.
This tiramisu cake is best eaten within two days, but it's unlikely it will last that long anyway because it's so scrumptious! Enjoy!
For the Vanilla Cake
- 2 sticks Butter
- 2 cups Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 3 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1 cup Milk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
For the Mascarpone Cream
- 2 cups Mascarpone
- 2 cups Whipping Cream
- 4 Egg Yolks
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 4 tablespoon Amaretto
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
For the Coffee Soak
- 4 shots Espresso (about ½ cup)
- ⅓ cup Amaretto
Decorating and Filling
- ½ cup Cocoa Powder
Make the Vanilla Cake
- ▢Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C and line two 8 inch cake pans
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat in
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl
- Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the batter, followed by ½ the milk, another ⅓ of flour, remaining milk and then remaining flour - being sure to mix in well in between each addition
- Add vanilla and mix in
- Pour evenly into cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean
Make the Mascarpone Cream
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until light and thick
- Beat the mascarpone with 4 tablespoon amaretto (or whatever alcohol you prefer)
- Combine egg yolk mixture and mascarpone mixture and mix together
- Whip the cream together with the vanilla until stiff peaks form
- Fold the whipped cream into the egg/mascarpone mixture, being careful not to squish out the air
- Refrigerate until you are ready to use
Assemble the Tiramisu Cake
- Once the cakes have completely cooled, cut the domes off the top so they are nice and flat, then cut each cake in half, so you have four thin layers
- Mix together 4 shots of espresso with ⅓ cup amaretto (or other alcohol)
- Place your first layer of cake onto your cake plate or board and brush the espresso/amaretto mixture onto the cake. The coffee with soak into the sponge, the more you use the stronger the coffee flavour will be, so soak according to taste
- Once the entire cake layer has coffee on top, apply a dollop of mascarpone cream and spread evenly, dust with a layer of cocoa powder
- Add the next layer on top and repeat the process to every layer. Do not apply cocoa powder on the very top layer yet
- Cover the top and sides of the cake in mascarpone cream and smooth out. Reserve some of the mascarpone cream for decoration
- Put in the fridge overnight to let all the flavours soak in and develop. If you don't want to leave overnight, make sure it chills for at least 4 hours before serving
- When you are ready to serve, dust the top of the cake entirely in cocoa powder
- Use the reserved mascarpone cream to pipe decoration on top, as desired