A Step-by-Step Guide To Making Tiramisu Cake

by Ella

Tiramisu cake, with its alluring layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and velvety mascarpone cream, is a beloved and iconic Italian dessert that has captured the hearts and palates of dessert enthusiasts worldwide. Translated as “pick-me-up” in Italian, tiramisu’s rich and irresistible flavors indeed lift the spirits of those who indulge in its decadence. In this article, we delve into the world of tiramisu cake, exploring its history, the art of crafting this exquisite dessert, and the tantalizing taste experience it offers.

Tiramisu’s Origins:

The exact origin of tiramisu is a subject of debate and romantic tales. Some attribute the creation of this sumptuous dessert to the city of Siena in Tuscany, while others claim it hails from the Veneto region, particularly the city of Treviso. The roots of tiramisu are said to trace back to the 17th century, although the modern version we know today began to gain popularity in the mid-20th century.


One popular legend suggests that tiramisu was created as a means to rejuvenate and uplift the spirits of Venetian women. It is believed that the dessert’s combination of coffee, mascarpone, and cocoa provided a stimulating and comforting treat, hence its name, “pick-me-up.”


How To Make Tiramisu Cake

Prep Time40 minutes
Active Time19 minutes


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour spooned and leveled, then sifted
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee espresso preferred - for brushing
  • 4 ½ cup full-fat mascarpone cold
  • some unsweetened cocoa powde
  • some whipped cream


  • Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line the bottom and the sides of three 8" (20cm) baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Make the genoise cake: In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs on medium speed just until combined. Add sugar and whisk on medium-high speed for about 10-12 minutes until white pale, foamy and tripled in size. (It takes 3-5 minutes longer with a handheld mixer compared to a stand mixer). To know if you have the right consistency, let a bit of batter drip off the whisk attachment on top of the mixed batter. The dripped batter should be visible for 10 seconds before it sinks into the batter. If it sinks earlier, you need to whisk longer.
  • With a wooden spoon, fold in flour, cornstarch baking powder carefully. Don't overwork the batter and don't work too fast otherwise, it will lose too much air. Divide in prepared baking pans and bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick centered in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Then remove from pans and remove the paper immediately. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • Make the mascarpone frosting: Whisk mascarpone on medium speed until creamy for about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and whisk until creamy and combined another 1-2 minutes. Add coffee and whisk until well combined and creamy for about 2-3 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and whisk until fully combined and creamy for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Assemble the cake: Place the first cake layer on a cake board or cake stand. Brush with a third of the ½ cup coffee.* Then spread ⅓ of the mascarpone cream with an offset spatula on top. Repeat one more time. Place last cake layer on top and lightly frost the outside and the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Level the top and sides with the offset spatula. Chill at least 4 hours in the fridge.
  • Pipe whipped cream on top if desired. Then dust with cocoa just before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days.

What pan to bake Tiramisu Cake in

The cake can be baked:


Half batch – three layer 6 inch cake; about 7-8 oz each and bake for about 14-16 minutes.


Half batch – two layer 8 inch cake; about 10-11 oz each and bake for about 18-20 minutes.

Full batch – four layer 8 inch cake; about 10-11 oz each and bake for about 18-20 minutes.

Full batch – three layer 9 inch cake; about 14 oz each and bake for about 18-20 minutes (do about ⅔ cup coffee soak for layer instead of ½ cup).

Full batch – about 10-11 oz each and bake for about 15-17 minutes

How to know when sponge cakes are done baking

Sponge cakes are fairly easy to assess when they’re done baking. The top will no longer look wet, it’ll have a light golden color, (don’t look for a golden brown color).

Gently press your finger into it and it should have some resistance and/or spring back. If it feels wet underneath the surface, leave it a few more minutes.

Try not to open the oven until it’s close to being done though.

Decorating this Tiramisu Cake

Sponge cakes are not as sturdy as traditional shortened cakes (like my vanilla cake) so again, the four layers is risky here. If you want to frost the outside of the cake, you will have enough mascarpone cream to lightly frost it; however, make sure to refrigerate the cake for at least 1-2 hours before frosting the outside.

If you want to actually decorate the cake with buttercream, you can use any type of buttercream recipe you like, but my favorite for decorating is Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

However, since the sponge cake is soaked in liquid, it will settle over the next few hours so I recommend refrigerating it for at least 4-6 hours, preferably overnight, before frosting the outside of the cake. The cake will be a little shorter the next day and you don’t want that to ruin your decor.

Innovations in Tiramisu Cake:

Tiramisu cake’s popularity has inspired various interpretations and innovative twists on the traditional recipe. Here are some delightful variations to explore:

a) Fruit Tiramisu:

Adding fresh berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries, to the layers of tiramisu offers a burst of fruity sweetness that complements the coffee and mascarpone flavors.

b) Chocolate Tiramisu:

For chocolate lovers, cocoa powder can be replaced with grated chocolate or chocolate shavings, creating a more intense chocolate experience.

c) Tiramisu with Alcohol:

While traditional tiramisu includes liqueur, various types of alcohol can be used to infuse different flavors into the dessert. Options like Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa, or even dark rum offer exciting taste variations.

d) Vegan Tiramisu:

Vegans can delight in a dairy-free version of tiramisu by using plant-based substitutes for mascarpone cheese, such as cashew cream or coconut cream, and using vegan ladyfingers and chocolate.

FAQs About Making Tiramisu Cake

Q1. Can I make tiramisu cake dairy free?

You can use dairy free cream cheese and coconut cream to make the mascarpone but the flavor will obviously be different.

Q2.Can I make tiramisu cake gluten-free?

Yes, it is possible to make a gluten-free Tiramisu Cake. By using gluten-free alternatives for the sponge, such as gluten-free flour blends or almond flour, and ensuring that all other ingredients used are gluten-free, you can enjoy a delicious Tiramisu Cake without gluten.

Q3.Can I turn this into tiramisu cupcakes?

Not really, a sponge cake would make a very sad and soggy cupcake. You can use this mascarpone cream to frost my vanilla latte cupcakes and that would be pretty similar.


Tiramisu cake is a timeless masterpiece that tantalizes the taste buds with its harmonious blend of coffee, mascarpone, and cocoa flavors. This classic Italian dessert continues to enchant dessert enthusiasts across the globe with its indulgent and sumptuous appeal. Whether preparing the traditional recipe or exploring innovative variations, tiramisu cake remains a symbol of culinary artistry and a testament to the enduring allure of Italian desserts. So, take a journey into the world of tiramisu, and savor the irresistible pleasure it brings with every exquisite bite.



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