tiramisu cake

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This cake is tiramisu rendered in a slightly more celebratory form. If the black forest cake is what I make for my family, this tiramisu cake is what I make for my friend who adores tiramisu.

My university cafeteria had two coffee shops – the omnipresent Tim Hortons (obviously) and then the “fancy one.” I’ve completely forgotten the name now but it felt rather out of place at the time – serving belgian waffles, and carrot and tiramisu cake slices, alongside considerably more price-y espresso-based drinks. On occasion, when we had a long break between classes, we would treat ourselves to tea. The food on the other hand was a bit too much a drain on the wallet to try.

This cake is well, superficially, modelled after the tiramisu cake in the shop case – as we never ended up trying it, I’m solely working off of its exterior.

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In this recipe I’ve included instructions for an alcohol-free version as I’ve mostly made this cake for a friend who doesn’t drink. In this case, I dipped the layers in only coffee, whereas for alcohol-containing cakes, the layers are dipped in a 1:1 mix of coffee and marsala/Tia Maria/rum or whichever suitable spirit is at hand. However, if you’re okay with alcohol, I do recommend the alcoholic version.

This cake is very much akin to making a tiramisu except we need to pay a bit more attention to structural integrity. Hence, you’ll notice the filling is quite thick so it can hold it’s shape between the layers. And when it comes to soaking the rounds of savoiardi in coffee/marsala, there is some balance between maintaining structure and achieving adequate flavour.

In the photos I’ve made the cake with naked sides, but other times I’ve made this, I’ve also reserved some filling to cover the sides. Pictured is the smaller 12-cm version, but I’ve also made this as an 18-cm cake – instructions for both are included in the recipe.

tiramisu cake

  • Servings: one 18cm cake or two to three 12cm cakes
  • Print

Instructions will be coloured-coded as such for making either one 18-cm/7″ cake or two to three 12-cm/5″ cakes

roasted sugar savoiardi

Makes seven to eight 12-cm/5″ diametre rounds or three 18-cm/7″ rounds. Adapted from As Easy as Apple Pie, with some adjustments to the method. 

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 75g granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 65g flour
  • 30g potato starch
  • pinch salt
  • icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

12-cm cakes: Either trace eight 12-cm diametre circles (you may not use all of them) on the underside of parchment paper, or line 12-cm diametre rings with collars of parchment paper. Using rings results in straighter sides, but the sponge cake may shrink back a bit resulting in a cake layer with a slightly smaller diameter – this is fine so long as all yours layers are baked in rings! If you are tracing circles, the layers may spread a bit and require a little trim around the edges once cooked.

18-cm cake: Either trace three 18-cm diametre circles on parchment paper, or line 18-cm diametre rings with collars of parchment paper.

Mix together the flour, potato starch and salt.

In the bowl of a standmixer, whip the egg whites until frothy, then sprinkle in half of the granulated sugar and whisk until firm peaks, approaching stiff, are formed.

Separately, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until very light and doubled or tripled in volume. Whisk in the milk.

Whisk a dollop of the egg whites into the egg yolks to lighten, the fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sift the flour mixture over top. Fold in gently until just combined.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1-1.2cm round tip with the batter and pipe rounds of batter in the 12 or 18-cm circles, starting from the middle and spiralling outwards. Lightly dust icing sugar over the rounds.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned. Let cool.

filling and assembly

Adapted from Ginger & Bread and Inspired Taste.

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tsp marsala/rum OR milk for non-alcohol version
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • around 400g marscapone (+/- 100g–so long as the consistency is quite thick–adjust sweetening as needed)
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • strong brewed coffee
  • marsala or rum
  • cocoa powder

In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the egg yolks, milk and 2 tbsp of sugar. Whisk constantly until egg yolk mixture is very hot (i.e. cooked) and light and fluffy, yet still liquidy and smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract and then the marscapone, one scoop at a time.

Whisk the cream with the remaining tbsp of sugar until stiff, then fold into the marscapone, first one spoonful to lighten, followed by the remaining cream.

When ready to assemble, combine roughly equal quantities of coffee and marsala in a shallow dish (alternatively, for an alcohol-free version, use only coffee).

12-cm cakes: Line 12-cm rings with a collar of parchment paper (or acetate). With the seven rounds of savoiardi I had, I made three small cakes: two double layer and one triple layer. If the cake rounds were not baked in the rings, they may need to be trimmed to fit.

18-cm cake: Line one 18-cm ring or springform pan with parchment paper (or acetate) to make one three-layer cake.

If you’d like to cover the sides of the cake, reserve some filling.

For the bottom layer, lightly dip only the top of the savoiardi round in the coffee-marsala mixture–this is to try to preserve the integrity of the bottom layer when slicing and serving the cake. Place into the bottom of the ring. Dollop some of the marscapone on top and smooth out. For the following layers, dip both the top and bottom of the rounds. End each cake with a layer of marscapone. Don’t worry if the top isn’t smooth at this point.

Chill cakes overnight. Remove the rings and parchment paper. Have a cup of just-boiled water and an offset spatula ready. Dip the spatula in the water to heat it, dry with a towel, and use the offset spatula to smooth the top and sides of the cake. Depending on how much of a “naked cake” look you want, you can also dab reserved filling on the sides or bring some of the excess from the top of the cake down to the sides. Dust the top with a layer of cocoa powder.

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