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.