I Made a Tiramisu Layer Cake

This last Friday was spent making this tiramisu layer cake for my wonderful boyfriend’s 25th birthday. Tiramisu is his favorite cake, but because I’m inherently extra and refused to make the traditional kind (nothing against the original, it just doesn’t have that birthday look to it imo) I went to Pinterest for answers and thankfully found eatloveeat’s brilliant take on tiramisu with her tiramisu ombre layer cake.

Usually, I try to make recipes my own somehow but I didn’t want to take a risk on this recipe since the cake was going to be served to him and his family – the pressure was on. This was also the 2nd layer cake I’ve ever made in my whole life. I know – can I even call baking my hobby? For me, the process that goes into making bread and pastry has always been more attractive and less time-consuming and intimidating than making a neat layer cake.

This cake was surprisingly not too bad to make, I think my baking skills have thankfully improved since I’ve made my last layer cake.


I had to put in a LOT of time into smoothing out the frosting for these reasons:

The melted chocolate had made the mascarpone frosting look slightly grainy (the mouthfeel was fine though) and it would separate when I tried to smooth it out with my spatula. I did use 60% chocolate instead of 70% like eatloveeat’s recipe had stated; she did have in her notes that other people had problems with their chocolate frosting as well and suggested that it might be the quality of chocolate. I could not find 70% but I suggest using that if you can find it. The frosting will feel and taste fine in your mouth, it’ll just take more work in smoothing it out.

The grainy frosting problem was amplified because I had run out of espresso powder. So for the mid-tone brown frosting, I had to use more chocolate instead of espresso powder. So that was two color layers I had to struggle with. I did notice that one of my chocolate frostings out of the two had a better texture even though it had more chocolate in it; I think this was because I poured the chocolate into that frosting really quick, as opposed to the other one, where a couple of minutes had passed after melting the chocolate.

Even though I had grainy-separated chocolate frosting problems, when I smoothed it out the best I could and put the cake in the fridge overnight, the cake and frosting looked great the next day – no signs of separation yay!

One of the things I changed about the recipe is making an 8-inch cake instead of a 6-inch. I doubled the cake recipe as she suggested on her blog; however, I also doubled the mascarpone frosting recipe instead of 1.5x like she suggested because I like visible frosting layers inside the cake, and found that I definitely needed more frosting.

I’ve also found that folding in the powdered sugar into the mascarpone as she suggested, resulted in a frosting that felt too stiff for me in terms of mouthfeel. I wish I had beat the sugar and mascarpone instead, for a fluffier texture which is why I’ve written that in the recipe below.

Even though I had a lot of criticisms about the cake I made, my S.O.’s family really liked it! Which is the best outcome I could’ve hoped for really.

Psttt *shameless plug* if you want to watch the process, check out my highlight on my Instagram @pokethedough

Tiramisu Layer Cake

eatloveeats recipe with some adjustments


Makes 8-inch 4-layer cake

For the cake:

450g unsalted butter (2 cups)

450g caster sugar (2 cups)

450g all-purpose flour (3 cups)

8 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

8 large eggs

6 tbsp milk

1 vanilla pod seeds scraped

2 tbsp espresso powder

2 tbsp cocoa powder

For the coffee syrup

5 tbsp espresso powder (or 4 tbsp ground coffee)

200g caster sugar (1-1/4 cup)

240mL water (1 cup)

For the mascarpone frosting

1500g mascarpone (52 ounces)

230g powdered sugar (2 cups) sifted

2-3 tbsp milk

1 vanilla pod seeds scraped

2 tsp espresso powder

50g 60-70% dark chocolate (2 oz)

To finish:

2 tbsp cocoa powder


For the cake

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/350°F. Grease (butter then flour) and line 2 (or 4 if you have them and the oven space!) 8″ cake tins with parchment paper. Weigh your mixing vehicle whether you’re mixing your cake in a stand-alone bowl or a bowl of a food processor. Note the weight down.

To prepare the cake mixture by mixer: Creaming the butter and sugar together. Beating in the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Folding in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

To prepare the cake mixture in the food processor: Place the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a few times until the ingredients are combined. Add the eggs one by one, processing briefly after each one. Finish by adding the milk and vanilla seeds and process until just combined. Take care not to overmix the batter.

Weigh the entire bowl of batter mix and subtract the weight of the bowl. Separate batter into 3 portions: one 1/2 portion, and two 1/4 portions using a scale. (You don’t have to do this precise weighing process but it helps make equal size cake layers).

Into the largest portion, carefully fold in the espresso powder. Into one of the smaller portions, fold in the cocoa powder. Leave the remaining smaller portion as it is: this is the vanilla layer.

Split the coffee mixture between the two tins and level the tops. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin before removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Clean the tins, grease, and line again and pour the vanilla and chocolate portions of the batter into each one. Bake and cool as above.

For the coffee syrup

Place the espresso powder, sugar and water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. If using ground coffee, do this exact process but strain the coffee grounds at the end by straining the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve.

For the mascarpone frosting

Place the mascarpone into a large bowl. Add the icing sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and the vanilla seeds. Using a hand mixer, beat together until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, adding up to one tablespoon of milk if needed. Separate the mascarpone as you did the cake mixture – into roughly half and two quarters.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool for one minute. After this time, stir the chocolate into one of the smaller portions of mascarpone. Stir the espresso powder into the other smaller portion of mascarpone. Leave the biggest portion as it is.

To assemble

Level the tops of the cakes using a bread knife (position toothpicks in the cake if you need the extra help to see where to cut).

Pour the coffee syrup evenly over the tops of the cakes and allow to soak in (preferably with a squeeze bottle for even coverage, you could also poke a hole into a water bottle cap with a needle).

Place the chocolate cake onto the turntable (or cake stand); for cake transport, place a cardboard round onto the turntable and spread a bit of frosting in the middle of the cardboard round to help the cake stay in place during frosting, before placing the first cake layer on top.

Spread vanilla frosting on top (you can do this as thick or as thin as you like; I like mine to be 1/2 in thick). To have the cake not crumble on you, you can also pipe the frosting on the cake, then spread it out with an icing spatula, not touching the cake underneath the frosting.

Place a coffee cake on top, followed by more vanilla frosting. Repeat with the remaining coffee cake and the vanilla cake, each time filling with vanilla frosting. Roughly spread some vanilla frosting over the entirety of the cake – this will be the crumb coat. Place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes.

Once chilled, begin the ombre frosting. Starting with the chocolate frosting, very roughly apply the frosting to the bottom quarter of the cake. Next, roughly apply the coffee frosting to the next quarter of the cake. If the two layers overlap, that’s good! It adds to the ombre effect. Cover the rest of the cake roughly with vanilla frosting (See this video for help on ombre frosting).

Smooth out the frosting with the spatula parallel to the width of the cake (across not standing straight), wiping the spatula clean after each release of contact so as not to muddy the cake. Fade out the lines where the color changes to create more of an ombre effect.

Dust the top of the cake liberally with cocoa powder for that final tiramisu touch.