Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mom’s Tiramisu Birthday Cake



Can we talk for a second? Who are those people that manage to get their cameras out just at the right moment to get all of those perfect “we’re having so much fun!” pictures? Do they just permanently have a camera attached to their hands? Do they get to partake in the fun, or are they too busy trying to take pictures? I’m awful at taking pictures (surprise surprise). I forget! Why would I want to be fumbling with my camera if I could be in the action.

That being said…it would really have been nice to be fumbling with a camera and to have proof that we celebrated my mom’s birthday. Instead, all I have is a few pretty pictures of her lovely cake. That I baked. Yes I just complimented myself. Deal with it.

There are so many wonderful things I could write about my mom.

For one, I know that no matter what, I will at least have one person reading this blog, and that’s her. Actually it’s a bit scary how quickly she catches on to whether I’ve posted…because I do it so amazingly infrequently. Mom senses. That’s how. Hi Mom!

My mom is probably about 80% of the reason I bake (The other 20% being my sweet tooth…)She was always so good at it! And like most things my mom is good at, she made it look so simple. When you tell her how good she is, she just shrugs it off like everyone can do what she does. Not true Mom, not true!

Anyways, I’ve been eyeing this  cake for a long time, waiting for the right person to make it for. My mom is a coffee lover, Italy lover (I really wanted to write Italian lover), and a cake lover (duh). Plus she’s my mom, so she deserves an awesome cake. Sounds good to me.

So I made this Tiramisu cake for my mom. The one who taught me and inspired me to bake, and garden, and clean with an 80/20 attitude (more like 50/50 sometimes), and forced me to eat salad every night.


This cake uses fancy ingredients like mascarpone cheese and instant espresso. Never fear. It’s just expensive cream cheese. The cake is light, but soaked with alcohol. If that doesn’t say birthday, I don’t know what does. I would highly recommend if you plan on serving it a day or so after you bake it, soak it the day you make it. That will keep it from drying out a bit – my one flaw this time.

Still delicious.

Love you mom! Happy birthday!

Tiramisu Cake

From Smitten Kitchen



For the cake layers:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Making the Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 in round cake pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

In a separate bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for approximately 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time ending with the yolk, beating about a minute each after ever addition. Mix in vanilla. On a low speed, mix in dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, making sure to start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix only until the ingredients disappear.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake cake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. Cakes are done when golden and springy. Transfer cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pans.

Making the Espresso extract

Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended

Making the Espresso syrup

Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur.

Making the Filling/Frosting

Whisk mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liquor in a large bowl until smooth.

Whip heavy cream with a hand mixer until it holds firm peaks. With a rubber spatula stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Gently fold the rest of whipped cream.

To Assemble the Cake

Place one layer right-side up on serving dish. 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 – user about 1 1/4 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 1 1/2 tablespoons 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. 

Smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. Decorate with Espresso beans.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving.