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Tiramisu-ish Cake


It was my mother’s birthday yesterday so I decided to surprise her with a cake. I know she likes tiramisu, so I decided to make this tiramisu inspired cake from Confessions of a Tart. It was a series of unfortunate events while making the cake, I forgot to buy buttermilk the night before so I rushed right out when I woke up to get some. Then while I was slicing the strawberries for the inside filling, I forgot about the whipping cream so it went past firm peaks to whipped cream. *Sigh*. Luckily, I had just enough to make another batch, but no heavy cream left over to make the chocolate glaze. Then I decided I could use the whipped cream in place of the 4 tablespoons of cream to make the chocolate glaze for the strawberries. I melted the chocolate in the microwave, then added the whipped cream to the melted chocolate, and then put it back in the microwave and lo and behold, it worked. YAY! I even decided to add more whipped cream to the chocolate mixture after the strawberries where done to make a chocolate mousse type thing. In the end the cake turned out deliciously. 

I have yet to make real tiramisu, but this cake does capture the essence of the real thing. The cake layers are soaked with a coffee/espresso suryp, with a strawberry, cream, and mascarpone cheese filling that is also used to make the frosting on the outside and a good dose of chocolate thrown in pretty much everywhere for tastiness. I didn’t have an icing spatula, but using a table knife worked well. I’d like to try frosting a cake with the correct tool. And I somehow managed to make to flat cake layers without any effort. Go me!

All in all, my mom was overly surprised by the clean house and the cake. I believe I’ve “done good Fred” as my mother would say. Why she calls me Fred is still unknown to me. 

*Please see Confessions of a Tart’s page on this cake, she has some good notes :).
Tiramisu Cake
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 (10 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

2 T espresso (about one shot?)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 T brandy

1 8-oz container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 T brandy
1 1/3 cup cold heavy cream + 3/4 T for strawberries
3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
12 or so medium to large strawberries
1 T espresso

Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F and butter two 9×2 inch round pans. Line the pans with parchment paper.

Sift or whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a different, large bowl (or mixer 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. It’s going to look gross and curdled, but don’t worry. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk (begin and end with dry ingredients); scrape down the bowl and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide evenly between two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pans at midway point, or until cakes are golden and springy to the touch and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes to unmold, flip over onto a rack or plates and peel the paper liners. Flip back over and cool at room temperature.

While the cakes are baking, make the espresso syrup: stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Stir in the espresso and brandy. Set aside.

Make the filling and frosting: In a small bowl, whisk the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and brandy just until blended and smooth. In a large (or mixer) bowl, whip 1 1/3 cups heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. With a rubber spatula, stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold the mascarpone into the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch. Chop 1 oz of the chocolate very finely. Hull 6 strawberries and slice them thinly.

Strawberries: Take remaining 6 strawberries and slice them in half lengthwise, leaving the green tails on. Top a tray with wax or parchment paper and arrange strawberry halves on top. Chop 1 oz of the chocolate very finely and put in a small bowl. Bring 4 T cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate; let stand a minute and then whisk until smooth and glossy. The chocolate should be thin enough to drip from the end of a spoon — if not, add a bit more cream and whisk in. Drizzle melted chocolate over strawberries. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hr.

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 cut side up on a cake plate. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone filling over the layer. Gently press the 1 oz chopped chocolate into the filling and arrange sliced strawberries on top. Put the second cake layer on the counter, cut side up and soak it with half of the remaining espresso syrup. Turn the layer over (carefully, it’ll be very soft) and position it on top of the first layer and filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

Whisk 1 T of espresso into the remaining mascarpone filling and smooth the frosting around the sides and on top of the cake. Grate 1 oz of chocolate over the top of the cake. With a butter knife, detach the refrigerated strawberry halves from the wax paper and arrange in a circle on top 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.

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