It's one of our good friend's birthdays this wkd....and we won't be around on the actual date so we celebrated it on Friday.
So of course I wanted to make him cake or cupcakes or something. Since these guys always taste test our cuppies and give me great feedback, I wanted to try my hand at something a little more challenging. A layer cake of course.
This would be my 2nd. I know he loves coffee and not too much chocolate...his wife has the sweet tooth in the family to my typical delight as we share many a dessert in blissful silence. BUT there are 3 other people eating this cake too and WE love chocolate and coffee, so figured I'd marry the two in a harmonious manner. Enter a tiramisu cake.
Dorie's was the closest to what I wanted but I still made modifications because I wanted there to be additional emphasis on chocolate buttercream here...more specifically mocha chocolate buttercream like I put on the minis I made this week. That frosting was SO GOOD I def had to use it again.
I baked the cake in a 6" deep cake pan, it was my first attempt at something like this and I wasn't sure how it was going to come out, esp when it took about 45 minutes in the oven. I thought for sure the top and bottom would be all dry and hard and the inside too mushy. Lo and behold, inside cake fabulousness.
Let it cool, cut it into 4 thin layers, and packaged it up til the next day.
The recipe called for a marscapone whipping cream for the filling. Most tiramisu cakes I found only used the marscapone whipping for the filling AND frosting. But I just wanted to use it for the filling and use the SMBC for the frosting. I wasn't sure about soaking the layers of cake with espresso or coffee...but figured it might not have enough of that wonderful coffee taste without it.
So I soaked the layers with espresso from our friend's machine (how handy!) and built the cake with marscapone whipped cream frosting on each layer and mocha Swiss Merengue Buttercream in the middle layer and on the top and sides of cake.
Chilled in the fridge for 3-4 hours, and the result was really wonderful, but amazingly enough (for me) not enough espresso taste. The birthday boy and his wife liked it, and so did my better half, but I thought I could have gone a little more crazy with the Kahlua AND espresso and been fine.
Still figuring out frosting and decorating cakes to make them look pretty--why does no one ever write about how mandatory cake boards are for making cakes??? I only had a 9" so I didn't use one since this was a 6"...well DILEMMA on how to get it from the 'working' plate to the 'pretty' plate, it was a trial and a half but somehow it made it and only a little worse for the wear. Next time I am DEF using a cake board. Lesson learned. But it was a hit for sure. Yay for my 2nd cake!!
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
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 (Mara Note: I used cocoa powder)
Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration
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. (Mara Note: I would refridgerate it longer because it tasted better next day!)
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.
Created a chocolate mocha SMBC with cocoa & coffee extract and instead of using the marscapone cream to frost the outside of the cake, I used the choco mocha SMBC on the outside AND on one middle layer inside. Though I could have done it on each layer I think and it would have been amazing.
Also I didn't make the espresso extract, I used regular espresso from a machine to soak the layers. I also didn't make the syrup which I didn't quite understand the use for anyway.
I dusted my whole cake with cocoa and used chocolate covered espresso beans for decoration. I think that this cake would be even better 1 day after assembled as ours only had 3 hours and it was tasty, but I can see how longer is better for the flavors to mix. Also don't be skimpy on soaking the layers with espresso, I was erring on the side of less but I could have put way more as the layers were pretty thick.
Lastly, I 1/2'd the recipe and made 1 deep 6" cake that I split into 4 layers. It is the perfect size for about 6-8 people to each have a significant slice!