Ever heard of a Tiramisu cake? The word tiramisu is Italian for "pick me up" or "cheer me up." It also happens to be the name of a famous dessert recipe consisting of ladyfingers layered with mascarpone mousse frosting, coffee glaze, and cocoa powder dust. Since its creation, it has gone on to inspire many variants including this beautiful cake.

Tiramisu cake decoded

Like its predecessor, Tiramisu cake is a layered dessert. Instead of ladyfinger, this variant is made with three rounds of simple vanilla sponge cake that are also layered with mascarpone mousse, coffee glaze, and cocoa powder dust.

The cake is pretty simple as it uses the Italian sponge cake formula consisting of eggs, sugar, and flour at a 2:2:1 ratio. The eggs and sugar are whipped together until smooth, then the flour is sifted and folded in with the vanilla flavoring. There will be three layers of this cake so invest in some 8-inch round pans.

The mousse frosting is also simple. Like no-bake cheesecake batter, the mascarpone cheese is whipped with sugar and heavy cream. However, since this is Tiramisu, some brewed coffee/espresso is added for its distinct flavor. It can be made with instant coffee granules to make things simpler.

Finally, the topping consists of coffee glaze and cocoa powder. The former can be made easily at home but it can be swapped out for some coffee liqueur.

If a coffee liqueur can't be obtained, just brew some coffee and mix it with powdered sugar at a 1:5 ratio. Optionally, you can throw some alcohol into the mix like brandy, or just leave it out to keep things sober.

The Tiramisu cake recipe

Cake ingredients

  • 5 large eggs at room temperature
  • 5 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 oz self-rising flour

Frosting ingredients

  • 4 oz brewed instant coffee/espresso, plus extra for brushing cakes
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 4 oz powdered or superfine sugar
  • 8 oz heavy cream

Topping ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 2 tbsp powdered or superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 oz coffee liqueur for brushing
  • 6 oz brandy for brushing (optional)
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

The directions

Cake directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 3 round cake pans (8-inch/20cm each) and set them aside.
  2. Pour the eggs and sugar into a clean mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachments, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium speed for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture turns pale and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. Sift the flour over the mixture in small additions, folding each in using a spatula or wooden spoon until all is combined for the batter.
  4. Divide the batter among the round pans. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the surfaces of the cake turn golden and feel springy on touch. Remove to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out on cake racks to cool completely.

Layer directions:

  1. Brew the instant coffee or espresso according to its instructions. Make sure to brew above the amount called for to make sure enough is left over after cooling.
  2. In another clean mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar until fully dissolved and the mixture is creamy. Beat in the brewed coffee/espresso until fully combined. Finally, beat in the heavy cream until stiff peaks form to complete the frosting. Don't overbeat. Clean the attachments for a second time.

Topping directions:

  1. In another clean mixing bowl, pour the heavy cream and beat it until it forms soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, then beat together until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Don't overbeat.
  2. Pour the coffee liqueur and brandy into another bowl and stir together. Set aside.


  1. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand or cutting board. Carefully slice off the dome from the top of the cake with a sharp knife at a straight level. Brush the surface and the sides with 1/3 of the coffee liqueur/brandy mixture.
  2. Dollop 1/3 of the frosting on top of the flat surface of the cake and spread it evenly. Dust the surface of the frosting with cocoa powder. Repeat both steps for the second cake.
  3. Stack the third cake on top of the two cakes and brush it with the coffee liqueur/brandy mixture like before. But this time, however, use the frosting to decorate its surface by pipping it out in patterns and swirls using a piping bag fitted with a tube of choice. Dust the surface and/or swirls with cocoa powder.

Serves: 8

If you enjoyed that Tiramisu recipe, perhaps you will enjoy this recipe for a Tiramisu icebox cake. Or maybe this one for a Tiramisu parfait. Take your pick!