Tiramisu Layer Cake

Tiramisu Layer Cake.

Tiramisu Layer Cake.

We gather that Tiramisu means “pick me up” in Italian. While a fitting translation, in our family it might as well mean “disappearing cake” (or in my case “expanding waistline”). We enjoy all sorts of desserts here at the farm, but everyone (and quite a few friends) agree that Tiramisu is a very special treat. This stuff goes fast. Tiramisu is hard to resist, and as a big cake, it is even harder. Too easy to go for seconds….way too easy.

tira3tira4In truth, we have a local bakery that makes an excellent version of Tiramisu cake that we occasionally bring home. But Carolyn and the boys decided to make their own, and we are glad they did. After looking at a few recipes, they combined elements from King Arthur Flour, Martha Stewart and our favorite basic yellow cake recipe into a simple, delightful recipe. This cake looks complicated, but it is easier than you might think.

tira5tira6This Tiramisu cake is really three basic recipes combined into one dish. You have a simple yellow cake, a coffee syrup and the mascarpone filling / frosting. For gear, all you need are cake pans, a springform pan (nice but not required) and an electric or stand mixer and you are business. The only tricky thing about making this dish is cutting layers from the yellow cake. A cake cutter is a nice tool here, but otherwise a serrated knife and some patience will do the trick.

tira7tira8As for time, this recipe has only 30ish minutes of active time, but the dish does require a few hours of inactive time. First, you do need some time to bake and cool the cake. Next you need to cut the cake layers, brush on the coffee syrup, apply the mascarpone filling and dust on some cocoa powder. Easy enough. But then you need to let the cake set up in the fridge for a few hours, and at least 4 hours is better. For me some of us, those hours did seem to pass sloooowly….but our patience was eventually rewarded with a perfect bite. This cake has everything; light, moist cake, sweet coffee, creamy filling and a blast of cocoa. And it was big enough for a second piece. Excellent.

tiraTiramisu Layer Cake:

Notes Before You Start:

  • For cleaner edges and better presentation it is best to build this cake in a springform pan, but you can go without. The cake will still taste great.
  • The yellow cake recipe yields two cakes. You only need one for the recipe, but now you have extra cake. Always good to have extra cake, and this cake freezes well. Otherwise, halve the recipe, if you like.

What You Get: Tiramisu as a cake. A very good make-ahead dessert for a crowd.

What You Need: A mixer and 8 or 9 inch cake pans. An 8 or 9 inch springform pan is nice to have.

How Long? 4 hours with about 30 minutes of active time. You can make this dish any time, just plan ahead to allow the time in the fridge.


(Makes a cake with 12-16 servings)

Yellow Cake:

  • 3 cups (12 3/4 oz.) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups (14 oz.) granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coffee Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Mascarpone Filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • Cocoa powder, for garnish


Yellow Cake:

  1. Grease 2, 8 or 9 inch round cake pans with shortening and then dust evenly with flour. Tap out excess flour. Place the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the large bowl of your mixer beat the butter until soft and smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl a few times while mixing.
  4. With the mixer at slow speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Smooth the batter in the pans so they cook evenly. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake tops are lightly springy.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and place on a wire rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before cutting or frosting.
  7. You will have an extra cake with this recipe. You can wrap the cake tightly in plastic and freeze for future use, if you like. (Or just eat some cake.)

Coffee Syrup:

  1. In a small saucepan stir the syrup ingredients over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a full rolling boil, remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.

Mascarpone Filling:

  1. Using your mixer at medium speed, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat the cream, as the you want a smooth texture.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
  3. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated.

Tiramisu Layer Cake:

  1. Remove the top brown crust from the cake (so the syrup will soak in). Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place one layer of cake into a springform pan that’s been lined with a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
  2. Sprinkle the cake with half of the coffee syrup. Spread half of the mascarpone filling onto the cake. Top with the second piece of cake. Sprinkle with the remaining coffee syrup and let it sit for several minutes, then top with the remaining mascarpone filling. Refrigerate for several hours or until well-chilled.
  3. To serve, run a thin spatula around the edge of the pan. Remove the springform. Move the cake to a serving platter. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve cold. Refrigerate any leftovers.

32 thoughts on “Tiramisu Layer Cake

    • King Arthur Flour. They have all the baking gadgets for geeks like ourselves.

      If you have a Sur le Table nearby they would also be likely to have one as well…

  1. Looks great! I like the idea of using coffee syrup. I usually just use strong coffee, but I think that syrup would enhance the flavor.

  2. mmmm…. there just are no words for this one. Except for maybe “I want some” and I would add “please” because that’s how I roll. 😉 Love that your wife and boys made it themselves.

  3. I love this: “Always good to have extra cake”. LOL!
    This looks really fabulous. Thank you for posting this.

    Also, this has nothing to do with the Tiramisu cake, but I wanted to tell you that I use one of your recipes quite frequently – it’s the one with the fish baked with citrus fruit. I wasn’t able to find the original post to comment there, so here we are. My husband LOVES fish baked this way.

  4. This is an excellent recipe. It really doesn’t sound too challenging, and my schedule is so often disruptive and choppy that I kind of enjoy baking that requires time in between stages! You said it works well as a “make ahead” dessert. Does it hold up for a couple of days, or get soggy? I’m thinking of how to plan if we had weekend guests. I would need a day or two ahead, and I wonder if this would work. We all just love tiramisu…and oh my, calories, calories…but I can blame having company! 🙂

  5. Pingback: L’Atelier Tiramisu | Chin Chai Jiak

  6. That Martha Stewart really knows her stuff. I’m always impressed with her episodes of her cooking program on PBS. Her website is good too. I just don’t think you can go wrong with her. I’m glad they didn’t keep her in jail too long. What we would have missed!! I bet your cake is out of this world!

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