Monday, July 22, 2013

Tiramisu Cake

Last month, we had the pleasure of hosting several members of Paul's family for a week. Since they live on the other side of the country, we do not get to spend nearly as much time with them as we would like so it was a treat to have them visit! We tried our best to make our lovely town beautiful, lively, and appealing but unfortunately the dang weather did not cooperate for almost the entire visit. It was nothing but gray skies and almost constant rain which pretty much forced us to eliminate all the outdoor activities we had planned for the week.

I did not take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked. I think there were perhaps 15 or so on my camera.

Uncle Peter scaring my youngest and boring my eldest.

Definitely related: Matthew does not know how to take a normal picture either.
Rainy days = intense games of cribbage between twins.

Uncle Steven securing his status as "favorite uncle" by letting Matthew play Angry Birds on his phone.
My sweet sister-in-law MaryRose was more than happy to entertain Emma for me. Any chance she could, she would hold, rock, or play with her. She was more than happy to pick out fresh outfits for her each day and enjoyed dressing her up for me! My baby girl was so happy to get so much attention! And they made quite the pair. Emma has many of the same dimples as MaryRose. They run in the family!

Do you see a family resemblance? Emma so very much enjoyed spending time with her Aunt MaryRose.
When I was able to lure MaryRose away from sweet little Emma, I asked her if there was anything she would like to bake with me. After carefully perusing through a few of my cookbooks, she settled upon a Tiramisu Cake, since the coffee and chocolate combination is one of her favorites! We decided to bake it in honor of Paul receiving his PE license (because you gotta be celebrating something when you put a layer cake together!).

We spent one evening baking up the cake layers. MaryRose was an absolute pro at handling the stand mixer and measuring all the ingredients. After the layers had baked, we let them cool and then I wrapped them tightly to place them in the freezer (as I do with all my cake layers because it makes trimming them so much easier). And that's as far as we got...

The whole family spontaneously decided to take a trip to a water park resort for the remainder of the visit. It was a fun little detour and the entire family enjoyed splashing around in the wave pools, play structures, slides, and many, many water raft and tube rides. I even took baby Emma down the lazy river several times and that crazy baby seemed to enjoy it even after being drenched by a waterfall (despite my best efforts to paddle away from it). Unfortunately, this little detour meant that MaryRose and I were unable to finish the cake. However, I promised her that I would.

I had the opportunity a couple weeks later when we were invited to a 4th of July BBQ. I was asked to bring the dessert and it seemed like a perfect time to finish making that tiramisu cake. The cake was a breeze to put together. Start to finish, it took me less than an hour to assemble the cake and return it to the fridge to chill.

Everyone at the BBQ seemed to enjoy it, although we all agreed wholeheartedly that the cake definitely needed more soaking syrup to really give the cake that soft, almost wet texture of the ladyfingers in traditional tiramisu. Next time I make this, I will definitely be doubling the syrup (and encourage you to do the same should you make this cake!). I personally thought the mascarpone frosting and filling was heavenly and could have eaten that all by myself (and would have had my milk allergy not kept my desire in check!).

Oh, and decorating the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans is an absolute must. Good call, MaryRose!

Tiramisu Cake
from Baking from My Home to Yours

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 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 (I used Kahlua!)

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 (Again, Kahlua!)
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

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

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2 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 3 additions and the milk in 2 (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 to 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 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 in 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.

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