If there was one dessert that could boot anything lemon from its position on my favorites list... this could be it. (Despite the scary picture of The Little People trying to dive in without utensils - which we shall blame on "Christmas Eve high"...)
About this time every year, the Dude makes random comments on how "so and so" made "THE BEST" Tiramisu. And I hear "CHALLENGE". A big, fat, wave the red flag in front of the angry bull challenge. (Please, no cow jokes here...)
Now, I am not generally a competitive person. In many circles, I am quite the wallflower - more than content to let others stand out. Or be noticed. However, there are exceptions - the primary exception being food that goes into the mouths of my peeps. Especially desserts - even more especially cakes. If someone in my house says that "so and so" makes a great this or that, Game On. I'm just not having it. 'Dem be fightin' words. Or baking words. Hmmmm....
I am sure that sounds REALLY BAD. And snarky. And not very magnanimous of me. And I should probably hang my head in shame. And I would. If I were sorry. But I'm not.
I suppose there should be some exceptions? I have to think about it. [Crickets chirping] Nope. My peeps. My house. My desserts must rule. I suppose some would stop right here and think "it sounds like this girl needs a New Year's resolution". And "some" might be right. But, not happening. Not this year, at least. Any-hoo, back to the cake....
Tiramisu is one of those desserts I hadn't wrapped my arms around yet. I have always been a little turned off by the concept that so many Tiramisu recipes call for store-bought ladyfingers - any recipe based on store bought cookies triggers this reaction: BLECH. Unless you are a white-fudge covered Oreo, you can stay home...
Some recipes require a genoise - again, a turn off. Now, I don't have anything against genoise - but light and fluffy have not quite entered my skill set yet. Strike Two. Another option would be homemade lady fingers. Strike three - pastry bag and even consistent shapes involved there.
And then I found Dorie. And her Tiramisu Cake. Which is based off a nice normal vanilla butter cake - in 9" cake pans. Something I could pull off. And not screw up (too much). Bless her soul. And now, it is MY Tiramisu cake that The Dude talks about and The Little People want me to make again. Not some random person's cake.
Game. Set. Match. (I was going to revert to the Bull and Matador analogy, but it felt just too much like I would be setting myself up....and not in a good way.)
But seriously, it was that good. If I weren't such a lemon girl - this really could be my new favorite dessert. But citrus rules over coffee & Kahlua... That's how I roll.
On that note, I will leave the link from when Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe to this cake a few years ago. It is also posted here... And you should try it. You REALLY, REALLY should try it. There is no disappointment to be had here.
The original source is Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I have to thank http://jumpingoffthecliff-sirey.blogspot.com/2010/12/tiramisu-cake.html for that little extra nudge of courage to give it a go... It is always a huge help when you can see how other bloggers were able to pull off a recipe.
by Dorie Greenspan
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
Cocoa powder, for dusting
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.
To assemble 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 – 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. If the frosting looks as if 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 filling, 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 for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa - or chocolate shavings (depending on how artsy you are...).