My apologies for the long hiatus. I hurt my back two months ago and it’s taken a very long time to heal and I haven’t felt like doing much of anything. I’m finally feeling better and in the mood to talk about food. I present to you the technical challenge from dessert week: Tiramisu Cake. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to make this for a few reasons. Tiramisu is good, but I don’t like coffee or booze in desserts because coffee keeps me up at night if I have it anytime other than the morning and I don’t like the sharpness of raw booze. But alas, I made it anyway and it was pretty good, but not the best thing I’ve made.
Another reason I wasn’t excited about making this cake had to do with the tins needed to bake and assemble the cake. To bake it, it calls for a 14×10 inch Swiss roll pan, which is surprisingly very hard to find and I actually never did find it. I ended up using a 9X13 inch pan that I already had. Second, the 7inch square tin with removable bottom is also hard to find. I could find 6 inch easily, but 7 inch was more expensive and not on Prime shipping. Since I was planning on using my 9×13 inch pan, I wouldn’t be able to use a 7inch square pan anyway because my cake wouldn’t be big enough, so I ended up ordering a 6 inch square pan with a 3 inch depth. I didn’t end up adjusting the recipe to correct for the smaller cake, so I had many ingredients left over. I made little miniature tiramisu in ramekins with the leftovers.
If you’ve made a Swiss roll before, you’ll be able to make this sponge no problem because it’s the same general method. Whip whole eggs and sugar until it’s very fluffy and leaves trails, like the trails pictured below. Then gently fold in self-raising flour until it’s all incorporated and there are no lumps left. Look out for unincorporated flour pockets!
Bake until golden brown and then allow it to completely cool on wire racks.
After you’ve baked the sponge, make all of the fillings while it’s cooling. The sponge is soaked with a brandy and coffee mixture. The coffee is instant coffee that is mixed with boiling water. To that, two mini-bottles of straight brandy is added, which seemed like so much to me. When I poured it in, it smelled like bad decisions. I was worried it would be too strong for me (since I don’t drink), so I actually boiled this mixture for a few minutes to try to cook out some of the ethanol. Obviously, if you like boozy desserts, don’t do this and maybe use better brandy than I bought.
While you let the sponge and the coffee-brandy mixture cool, grate the chocolate. This was a very labor intensive step and made my fingers hurt, but it’s definitely worth it because the chocolate is delicious and a great texture.
Finally, make the mascarpone cream filling. This is the element of the cake that drives the price up. Mascarpone cheese is not cheap – $5 for a small tub and you need 3 250g tubs. The tubs I could find were only 225g, but I said close enough because I didn’t want to buy another $5 tub of cheese.
Beat the cheese in a stand mixer until smooth. I used the paddle attachment because I was afraid if I whipped it, the cream would get too thick. Gradually pour in the heavy whipping cream and then the powdered sugar and let it come together into a smooth, spreadable mixture. It is incredibly delicious and worth the expense! It’s nice because it’s lighter than cream cheese and not incredibly sweet.
Now that everything is cool and the other components have been prepared, it’s time to assemble the cake! Start with you square cake tin.
Cut the sponge in half horizontally and then use the bottom of the cake tin as a stencil to cut two equal sized pieces, leaving you with 4 pieces total. Take one layer of sponge and place it on the bottom.
The next step is to soak the coffee-brandy mixture into the sponge. The recipe calls for you to soak 1/4 of the mixture into the sponge. It seems like so much to me, so I’d recommend actually separating the liquid into four equal portions to make yourself use all of it. If you’re using a 6inch tin like me, you’ll want to use less. I definitely did not soak as much as the recipe calls for into the sponge, but that was mainly on purpose because I didn’t want an incredibly strong coffee-boozey sponge.
On top of the sponge goes 1/4 of the mascarpone cream. Try your best to spread it into an even layer. You can use a piping bag and pipe equal rows, but that seems like a lot of effort.
On top of the cream layer goes a grated chocolate layer. Next, repeat with the rest of the sponges, coffee-brandy, cheese and chocolate. My cake tin only provided enough room for 3 layers instead of the specified 4.
The final layer will be mascarpone cheese with a dusting of cocoa powder on top. This then goes in the fridge and chills for at least an hour to set.
While the cake is chilling, you’ll make some chocolate decorations for the top. You will temper some chocolate and pipe out decorations onto parchment paper. I went with swirls, dots, triangles and the word “cake”. If you don’t make it too thin, you can make any kind of chocolate decoration and have it hold together so have some fun!
This cake did taste very good and I liked that it wasn’t too sweet. You can see in my layers that there isn’t much coffee-brandy soaked into them. It could have used more, but it was still good with how much I put in.
Since I had leftovers of a lot of the ingredients, I made 4 mini-tiramisu cakes in ramekins. They were just as tasty as the cake.
Preptime: 45 minutes
Cooktime: 20 minutes
Assemblytime: 30 minutes
Chilltime: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8 large slices
For the sponge:
Softened butter for greasing the tin
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour, sifted
For the filling:
1 tbsp instant coffee
150mL boiling water
3x250g mascarpone cheese
300mL heavy cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
65g dark chocolate, grated
For the decoration:
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
7 inch x 3 inch square cake tin with removable base
14×10 Swiss roll pan
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 14×10 Swiss roll pan generously with butter and then dust it with flour.
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until the mixture is very fluffy and leaves trails when the whisk is removed from the mixture, five minutes. Add in the flour and gently fold it in to combine, trying not to knock too much air out but also not leaving pockets of unmixed flour. Pour into the greased baking dish and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack and continue to cool completely.
For the filling, combine the boiling water and the instant coffee. Whisk in the brandy and set aside to cool.
When the cake is completely cool, use a cerated knife to cut it in half horizontally so that you have two thin, even sponges. Use the base of the 7inch square cake tin as a stencil to cut out four equal sized pieces. Save the scraps as treats or toss them.
Place the cake base back in the tin and line with parchment paper so that the cake comes out evenly.
Make the mascarpone cream by beating the cheese with the paddle attachment until smooth. Slowly pour in the cream and then add the powdered sugar and beat until combined.
To assemble the cake, place one layer of sponge in the square cake tin. Soak 1/4 of the coffee-brandy mixture into the sponge. Spread 1/4 of the mascarpone cheese on top in an even layer. Sprinkle 1/3 of the grated chocolate over the top. Repeat these layers with the rest of the sponges. On the final layer, dust the cocoa powder on top of the mascarpone filling. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Make the chocolate decorations while the cake is chilling. Melt half of the chopped chocolate using a double boiler and heat until the chocolates reaches 127F. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the other half of the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cool until it reaches 88F. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe out decorations onto parchment paper. Transfer the paper to the fridge to allow the chocolate to set.
After the cake has chilled, gently remove it from the tin by pressing on the removable bottom and sliding it out. Decorate with the chocolate.