Tiramisu cake – a cautionary tale

What can I say about Tiramisu?  Well, it’s not trifle.  I learned that after years of confusion.  Much like Al Pachino is not Robert DeNiro.  I know they were different but somehow they always occupied the same space in my brain.  So that’s fact one.  Tiramisu is not Triffle, but it could be Al Pachino’s favourite dessert for all we know.  Fact number two;  Tiramisu seems to be a boozy, caffeine-loaded pile of cake with fancy cream cheese icing, aka.  my husband’s dream.  Sorry, that is probably the most offensive description of Tiramisu ever recorded.   Tiramisu fact number three; the recipe is a lesson in planning and I failed.

Tiramisu day started out like any other day.  I casually went to the grocery store and spent $30 on mascarpone, fancy chocolate and of course more eggs and sugar.  I didn’t splurge for the brandy because I don’t think I could have identified it in the liquor store and what dessert isn’t improved with amaretto? So I took my haul home and made the syrup? soak?  drenching liquid? Whatever it’s called I mixed the booze and coffee together.

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The next thing I tackled was the filling.  I beat together powdered sugar, cream and the cheese that, no joke, cost $15.  This better be good!  No worries it ended up looking divine.  Worth the $15 for sure!

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When taking it in bite-size chunks this recipe is pretty accessible. So far I’ve just been dumping things together and mixing.  I was excited to get to the baking part.  The part where you do the dumping and mixing but don’t really know if it turned out until that fateful moment when you bring it out of the oven.

This sponge recipe seemed very similar to the swiss roll recipe.  A lot of beating eggs and sugar until there is a trail of batter.  Usually, this totally baffles me but this time I am pretty sure I got the trail.  Or at least a much-changed batter.

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Sifting in the flour was stressful as usual but I persevered and made sure to tilt my pan so it was level, unlike the Charlotte Royale slant.  The whole thing baked in no time at all and it looked nice and golden.  In fact, it looked much better than it smelled.  It smelled like cooked eggs.  My husband came upstairs because he thought I had made an omelette.  Hmm, not exactly the scent of baking cookies that realtors pump into houses. But I was more concerned about structural integrity than scent at this point since I had to cut a 1/2 inch sponge in half.

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While my sponge cooled I grated some grown-up chocolate.  I’m talking 70%, none of that sugary Dairy Milk here.  It was surprisingly therapeutic.

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Back to sponge surgery.  Pro tip:  Mary says to cut the whole thing in half and then cut out squares to fit your pan.  Don’t do that.  Cut out the squares first and then cut them in half.  This means you have less of the delicate sponge to navigate and you get to eat the off cuts to determine if you did actually make a cake omelette. The edges tasted ok, they were going to benefit greatly from a good coffee soaking.  The slicing was less ok.

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Things were in a delicate state.  Things being the sponge and my psyche.  Nothing to be done but hide the pieces in the middle of the cake.  And so I began assembling.  I had the brilliant idea of putting the filling in a piping bag so I could evenly distribute it on each layer without having to tug at a knife onto of the crumbling cake.  This worked great except I was a mess at portioning it out.  I boldly soaked my first layer, piped on the filling and sprinkled my chocolate.

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And with each subsequent layer panic set in.  I was running out of filling,  I was running out of the coffee mixture.  This was not good.  By the time I got to the top layer I contemplated getting the blob of filling off my sock to be able to cover the sponge.

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PLease don’t ask how it got on my sock, I don’t know, things were getting weird.  With so little filling left and no extra sock mixture added in I had to try to spread the filling over the crumbling sponge.  With each stroke of the knife, some cake came with it.  Not good.  Finally, I got it covered-ish, only to realize I was supposed to crumb coat the cake and then maybe cover the sides.  And after all that, I was supposed to have tempered chocolate and made intricate chocolate decorations.  Nope.  Sorry, I produced a cake.  It has a very sturdy base and a slapdash top but it’s was a cake, that’s it I’m out.

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So let this be a warning to all your bakers out there.  Read through the recipe before you start.  And even after you’ve read it read it again.  Because if you’re like me you stopped paying attention after step 10 and those last 9 steps are relevant.  And portion out your ingredients.  If you need to have enough for 4 layers of something, be like those crazy bake off bakers and weigh and divide.  I know it’s math but it will save you from a sad Tiramisu flop.  Luckily the cake still tasted pretty good despite it’s less than professional appearance. I have been schooled and I will do better. I have to, or the Prinsesstårta will be a sh** show!

5 thoughts on “Tiramisu cake – a cautionary tale

  1. I’m so glad you posted this, because I’ve been wanting to make this and have been really paranoid about it! I’m sure it still tasted delicious no matter how difficult it was!

    Like

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