Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tiramisu Cake - A Sweet Punch!

The Sweet Punch is a new baking-blogging group started by the trio of Ria, Divya and Maria. And of course if there are any blogging groups out there, I immediately drop everything I am doing and run and join them.

Especially if they will contribute to the needs and cravings of my sweet tooth.
Or a plate of chicken.
Because that seems to be the direction my blog is headed.Chicken. And then Cake. And then some more Cake.

This is the first challenge and it was the lovely Tiramisu Cake by Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. The recipe involves making your own mascarpone cheese (delicious! Swoon!). That itself was the feather in the cap for this recipe, because I've been longing to make homemade mascarpone, but could never bring myself to do it for lack of a trusted recipe to follow through with.

The cake has several stages and components, but everything came together beautifully and the cake was a smashing hit! I made it for my nephew's medical school intro. How appropriate, espresso coffee and liquor in a cake for a new young doc!

The only silly thing I did was I got nervous when dousing the cake with the espresso syrup and thought the cake was getting too wet and soggy and so I stopped. Silly me didn't realise that I had just barely moistened the top crust and the cake could have done with a good dousing of the remainder of the syrup. I did however think there was too much frosting for the cake, and ended up not using half of the mascarpone/cream filling.
Which is fine, because then I just proceeded to make a meal out of the filling by itself =).

Don't be intimidated by all the steps, it is totally worth the effort!

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese (make on previous day)
Double boil 250 ml of heavy whipping cream on medium-high heat stirring occasionally for 15 mins ( you can see small bubbles on the edges).
Add 1/2 tbsp lime juice and stir. You will see a slight change in the texture of the cream (it's a very light change and not like curdling of milk).
Keep stirring for one minute. Take of the heat (It will be custard -like).
When it cools down completely, pour it into a dampened muslin/cheesecloth lined strainer and leave it in the fridge for 8 hours/overnight.
In the morning you will see that it has thickened up and formed a cheese.

Tiramisu 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 (I used regular coffee 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 dark rum)

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone (store-bought or homemade)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy (I used dark rum)
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
Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Getting ready:
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. 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:
3. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. 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.
5. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.
6. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
7. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled.
8. 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.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
10. 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.
11. 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.
Usingpastry 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.
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.