I have been meaning to make a tiramisu for a while now, but I’ve been having a hard time finding a decent brand of ladyfingers lately. Since espresso-dipped ladyfingers are the primarily structural element of a tiramisu, it goes without saying that I didn’t get around to making one. Instead, I made something that had all of the elements I wanted to incorporate into my tiramisu: a tiramisu flavored bundt cake.
The most traditional tiramisu will be made with espresso and wine or spirits, something like marsala wine, Vin Santo or a coffee-flavored liquor. To make the cake, I added layers of espresso and Kahlua flavors to a vanilla cake base. I really like the flavor of Kahlua, especially in baked goods, and I thought that it would work out better in the finished bundt than marsala would. The plain cake batter was made first, then divided up into separate bowls and Kahlua and espresso were added to flavor some of the batter. After the cake was baked, I used mascarpone cheese and more Kaluah to make a frosting to finish it off.
The trick to getting the swirl in this cake is layering the batter in the bundt pan. Take your time and add the batter into the pan with smaller dollops of batter or a very even pour, gradually building an even layer. Don’t just dump the batter in an expect to spread it into place with a spatula. This will work for the bottom layer, but the subsequent layers have slightly different consistencies and it is best to just create the layers as you go.
The cake has a tight, even crumb and, while it is not as heavy as some pound cakes can be, is similar in its consistency. It slices beautifully and holds up very well to the frosting. The frosting is light and creamy, with a lovely Kaluah flavor. It brings out the flavor of the Kahlua layer in the cake, but doesn’t mask the flavor of the espresso layer, either. It may not be a traditional tiramisu, but it keeps the spirit of the original! It also keeps well for several days, so it can be made in a day in advance if you intend to serve it at a party or gathering.
Tiramisu Bundt Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup espresso or very strong coffee
1/4 cup Kahlua
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking power and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk large bowl, ending with an addition of flour, and mixing just until everything is incorporated.
Remove 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Remove another cup of batter into a second small bowl. Add espresso to one of the small bowls and whisk until well-combined. Add Kahlua to the second small bowl and whisk until well combined.
Pour half of the plain batter into the bundt pan and spread into an even layer. Pour the Kahlua batter into an even layer on top of the plain batter. Pour espresso batter on top of Kahlua batter. These batters maybe slightly thinner, but do not mix or stir them. Carefully spread all remaining plan batter into the bundt pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Kahlua Mascarpone Frosting
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4-oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat at medium-high speed until very smooth and fluffy. Use a butter knife or spatula to apply the frosting to the bundt in a thick, even layer.
CiaochowlindaNovember 2, 2009
What a fabulous idea for a bundt cake. Great flavor combo.
LindaNovember 2, 2009
That looks awesome. I can’t wait to try it. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have good ladyfingers for tiramisu. TJ’s are more seasonal but Whole Foods carries them all year round. TJ’s are a little bigger and fluffier and WF’s are more slender so you can get more cookies to the dish. I’ve tried both and like both. I have a great recipe that doesn’t require raw eggs and most people seem to prefer it. Definitely not lo-cal but lots of great flavor. I’m looking forward to trying this one out on the tiramisu lovers to see if they enjoy it too.
CaleyNovember 2, 2009
You come up with so many great recipes! I love just browsing through them all. I have to ask, though, do you ever find that when you bring a dessert to a party or something, people don’t try it because it isn’t familiar? My mom and I always make really delicious, creative desserts we get from different cookbooks, and we are frequently disappointed when everyone just eats Rice Krispie treats and ignores our chocolate orange sugared bonbons or whatever. Maybe your fame as a baker doesn’t allow for that outcome!
StefanieNovember 2, 2009
I’ll have to make this right away! My husband LOVES tiramisu but I don’t like the texture, this seems like a perfect compromise!
NicoleNovember 2, 2009
Caley – That is a very interesting question. I have to say that it doesn’t happen to me all that much anymore, but when it does, I simply remind myself that it’s their loss and take the leftovers home for those who will appreciate it! Just keep trying – they’ll come around!
D. @ Outside OsloNovember 2, 2009
That’s beautiful and looks delicious, too! It’s interesting how much it can vary, from the cakey type drenched in espresso or the custardy type soaking in alcohol. I like your idea!
Nutmeg NannyNovember 2, 2009
Wow this looks amazing! It has all my favorite flavors in cake form:) I’m in love with that icing…yum!
HilaryNovember 2, 2009
O.M.G. I LOVE tiramisu and I always think bundts are a little bland–what a great way to jazz one up! Can’t wait to try
MollyCookieNovember 2, 2009
I love any desserts with a swirl! Great recipe. I recently got my first bundt pan and I am looking for something to try in it. This looks like a great candidate!
veraNovember 3, 2009
Bellini ValliNovember 3, 2009
This is so reminiscent of days that need to be recaptured with delicious desserts and the time to sit down and enjoy them. Beautiful dessert.
Liz BrooksNovember 3, 2009
What an awesome idea, this sounds great!
MeghanNovember 3, 2009
This is such a beautiful cake! I love that it’s a new spin on a classic dessert. I’ve also had trouble finding decent ladyfingers, so I’m excited to try this recipe!
JanisNovember 3, 2009
I think this sounds better then the original w/ladyfingers. I like the pound cake texture w/the frosting on top. I can’t wait to make it, thank you
PattiNovember 3, 2009
I just received my cookbook from you and it looks so great! The photos are terrific, and I can’t wait to start baking! Thanks!
LieslNovember 3, 2009
I just opened my reader and saw this! OMG!!! This looks so amazing! I. MUST. MAKE. SOON! ;o)
LuNovember 3, 2009
Can I leave out the Kahlua? I don’t drink
Carole ResnickNovember 4, 2009
I just received my Baking Bites Cookbook. Beautiful pictures and beautiful recipes. I know I will spend the winter working my way through the book.
I just took this cake out of the oven. I can hardly wait to turn it out and frost.
AnnaNovember 5, 2009
What a great name for a cake! Love the idea.
AshleyNovember 5, 2009
Oh yes this sounds absolutely perfect! I’ve been wanting to make cappuccino espresso bundts and this would be quite similar so I’ll have to save the recipe!
Amber Shea (Almost Vegan)November 7, 2009
I have this in the oven right now! I’m taking it to a party tonight; I can’t wait to taste it!
Heather HigginsNovember 11, 2009
This is one of those delicious cakes that when you smell it you can get a really good idea of how great it’s going to taste. When you do finally taste it, you know the smell was clearly understated!
Ashley WNovember 18, 2009
I made this for my office yesterday. They voted it “best dessert” in our Italian cookoff. I cheated and used store bought icing with some extra Kahlua mixed in. The co-workers liked it, but it was too sweet for me… next time I will make the real thing.
LienNovember 18, 2009
just wanted to let you know I’ve made this bundt too. It was sooo delicious!!! Moist and yummy. I loved the way the swirling just worked so well. I just omitted the mascarpone topping, cause we have a cowmilk-allergy in the family and substituted with a chocolate glaze. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. (just in case you’re wondering how it was without milk… I normally use oatmilk in stead of cows milk)
The Food HunterNovember 23, 2009
OH MY! I can’t wait to try this.
LuJanuary 26, 2010
can i leave out the kalhua ???
stephMarch 3, 2010
Anyone tried this in cupcake form? NYC apt w. no bundt pan here ;/
Sarah GreenfieldJuly 10, 2010
Where in the world so you all get the ideas for some of these things? I’m stuck on the very basics of soup, salad, hamburgers, hotdogs and of course cheesecake :). Must be experiementation and curiosity.
raineyJanuary 9, 2011
I’m looking forward to trying this.
As for ladyfingers for traditional tiramisu, I can’t remember the brand name but I have had excellent results with the ladyfingers I purchased at an Italian deli located next to Starbucks on the corner of Topanga and Dumetz in Woodland Hills.
While you’re there, try their gorgonzola pizza and the assorted vacuum-packed olives they get from Italy.
They’re lovely people and have some good and hard to find items.
JennMay 30, 2011
Hi Nicole! I just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you for this recipe! I’ve had it saved fooorever and finally got around to making it and it’s seriously amazing. 🙂 It’s breakfast today… thanks again!
Sweet Bee CottageFebruary 4, 2012
Found this on pinterest and I can’t wait to try it. Sounds divine!
KatAugust 12, 2012
I baked this today using cake flour , regular pan and bailey instead, still turn out good! Fantastic recipe, Thank you 🙂
DianaDecember 26, 2012
Tried this cake for Christmas eve and was not impressed .
JuliaNovember 18, 2013
Does this cake need to be kept refrigerated, or will it be OK at room temperature?
NicoleNovember 18, 2013
Julia – It should be ok at room temperature as long as it’s not super hot in your kitchen!
JuliaNovember 20, 2013
Thank you, Nicole! I can’t wait to make this cake for Thanksgiving 🙂
AliceJune 25, 2015
Made this for my Book Group today, just did a powdered sugar mixed with Starbucks mocha iced coffee frosting, and served it with coffee ice cream. Delicious! A keeper for sure! Thanx.
DeeApril 18, 2018
This was just ok. It took longer to bake than stated, by about 15 minutes or so. The end result was a nice, moist cake, but the taste just didn’t do it for me, and I love coffee. That being said, I think the recipe itself might be a keeper, just with some different flavoring than the kahlua and coffee for the inside layers.