Tiramisu Layer Cake

This Tiramisu Layer Cake turns you favorite Italian dessert into a decadent layer cake! Made with layers of vanilla cake drizzled with an espresso kahlua mixture, tiramisu filling and mascarpone buttercream. Who knew tiramisu in cake form was so darn tasty?

If you enjoy this tiramisu cake you should also try my Easy Classic Tiramisu Recipe!

Tiramisu Layer Cake

Tiramisu Cake

I am a lover of tiramisu. What’s not to love? Soft cake/lady fingers. Espresso and Kahlua – yum! And that egg and mascarpone filling – the best! I could seriously just eat that with a spoon. And then with this cake, there’s the mascarpone buttercream. So many amazing things in one. If you are a tiramisu fan you are going to adore this tiramisu cake.

This cake is just my newest addition to the tiramisu love fest. I’ve got a Classic Tiramisu Recipe, Mini Tiramisu Trifles, Tiramisu Cheesecake, Tiramisu Cupcakes and even a Pumpkin Tiramisu Layer Cake. All are so darn good!

How to Make a Tiramisu Cake

While there may be a decent number of steps in this cake, it really isn’t hard to make. Let’s break it down.

Step 1: Make Your Vanilla Cake

To start, you’ve got the vanilla cake layers. If you’ve ever made my favorite Moist Vanilla Layer Cake, then you already have this part nailed, because that’s the cake I used here.

The cake starts with creaming the butter, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract, which adds air to the batter so you don’t want to skimp on the creaming time. Look for a noticeable change in the color and texture of the mixture. It should lighten in color and get “fluffy”.

Next, you’ll add the eggs one at a time.

Finally, alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk. The main thing to keep in mind here is to not over mix the batter once you’ve added the dry ingredients at the end. It’s not necessary and could actually result in a more dense cake.

Tiramisu Layer Cake - layers of vanilla cake drizzled with espresso and kahlua and filled with tiramisu filling!Tiramisu Layer Cake - layers of vanilla cake drizzled with espresso and kahlua and filled with tiramisu filling!

Step 2: Make the Tiramisu Filling

The filling is probably the most important part of this cake. Both because it’s a legit tiramisu filling and tastes amazing and totally makes the cake, and also because it’s probably the least familiar process if you haven’t made tiramisu before.

But I promise, it’s not hard.

Start by adding the egg yolks and sugar to the top of a double boiler or a metal mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water, which is what I use. You don’t want your water to get to boiling too much or it’ll heat the mixture too quickly. Check it regularly to make sure it’s still just simmering.

As the eggs heat up and the sugar begins to melt, the mixture will start to thin out.

Continue cooking and whisking continuously for about 5-8 minutes. The whisking is important here, since it adds air to the mixture that helps it thicken and grow in volume. Don’t be afraid to actually whisk it as opposed to just stirring lightly with a whisk.

When the mixture has thickened, grown in volume and become a pale yellow, it should be ready. The sugar should have mostly melted, but if it still feels a little grainy, that’s ok. If you have a food thermometer, you can check to make sure the temperature has reached about 155°F.

Set the mixture aside to cool to just a little warmer than room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the whipped cream.

When the egg mixture has cooled, add the mascarpone cheese and gently fold together. You want your mascarpone cheese to be cool, but not cold and not too warm. Mascarpone cheese can be a little finicky. Too warm and it’ll get soft and almost watery. Too cold and it’s hard to mix it in. I like to set it out of the fridge for 15-20 minutes, then use it.

Finally, fold in the whipped cream in two parts, then set the mixture aside.

Tiramisu Layer Cake - layers of vanilla cake drizzled with espresso and kahlua and filled with tiramisu filling!Tiramisu Layer Cake - layers of vanilla cake drizzled with espresso and kahlua and filled with tiramisu filling!

Step 3: Make the Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

You guys, I LOVE mascarpone cheese in desserts. It’s just SO GOOD. Have you ever added it to whipped cream before? Just on it’s own. It’s amazing. So as a buttercream, it’s also just wonderful.

It’s a pretty straightforward buttercream, but just remember what I said above about the temperature of mascarpone cheese when you use it. You don’t want it to be too warm.

Step 4: Make a Kahlua and Espresso Drizzle

What would tiramisu be without the espresso? I like to add some Kahlua, but feel free to leave it out and use additional espresso.

Step 5: Assemble Your Tiramisu Cake

All that’s left to do is build your cake! I’ve got some great tutorials on building a stable layer cake that you should definitely check out if you aren’t super comfortable with the process.

Because the filling of this cake is a little on the softer side, you do want to be sure that your cake’s structure is sound. The frosting is what helps with that and keeps things in place, so be sure you’ve got a nice, stiff consistency. If at any point the layers seem like they’re moving around more than you like, just refrigerate the cake for a bit until things firm up. Both the frosting and the filling will firm up when refrigerated.

The Best Tiramisu Cake

The final Tiramisu Layer Cake is wonderful! The cake and filling are nice and light, the coffee and Kahlua are delicious and the mascarpone frosting brings it all together! It’s the perfect cake for the tiramisu lover in your life!

Tiramisu Layer Cake - layers of vanilla cake drizzled with espresso and kahlua and filled with tiramisu filling!Tiramisu Layer Cake - layers of vanilla cake drizzled with espresso and kahlua and filled with tiramisu filling!

More Great Tiramisu-Inspired Recipes:

Classic Tiramisu Recipe
Mini Tiramisu Trifles
Tiramisu Cheesecake
Tiramisu Cupcakes
Pumpkin Tiramisu Layer Cake
Oreo Brookie Tiramisu

Print
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Photo of sliced tiramisu cake
Recipe

Tiramisu Layer Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 28 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 43 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Tiramisu Layer Cake is made with vanilla cake layers drizzled with an espresso Kahlua mixture, tiramisu filling and mascarpone buttercream. It’s tiramisu in cake form and so darn tasty!


Scale

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake Layers

  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk

Tiramisu Filling

  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (104g) sugar
  • 5 oz (142g) mascarpone cheese, cool but not cold
  • 3/4 cup (240ml) heavy whipping cream, cold

Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 10 oz mascarpone cheese, cool but not cold
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp-1 tbsp water or cream

Espresso Kahlua Mixture

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water
  • 12 tbsp (10g) instant espresso coffee powder
  • 3 tbsp (39g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Kahlua

Additonal

  • Cocoa, for dusting, optional
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans, for decorating, optional

Instructions

TO MAKE THE CAKE LAYERS:

1. Prepare four 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter, sugar, oil and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
6. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter will look curdled, but that’s ok.
7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
8. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

TO MAKE THE TIRAMISU FILLING:

10. When the cakes have cooled, make the filling. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler (or in a metal mixer bowl over a pot of simmer water). Whisk to combine. The mixture will seem a little chunky at first, but will thin out as it heats up.
11. Continue cooking and whisking continuously for about 5-8 minutes, until mixture grows in volume, thickens and turns a pale yellow. The sugar should melt, but if it’s still a little grainy, that’s ok. It will smooth out as you go. The temperature of the mixture should reach about 155°F (68°C).
12. Set the egg mixture aside to cool to a little warmer than room temperature.
13. While eggs cool, make the whipped cream. Add the heavy whipping cream to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
14. When the egg mixture has cooled, add the mascarpone cheese and gently fold together until combined.
15. Gently fold the whipped cream into mascarpone/egg mixture in two parts. Set mixture aside.

TO MAKE THE FROSTING:

16. Place the butter in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
17. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
18. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until well combined and smooth.
19. Add the salt and vanilla extract and mix until well combined and smooth.
20. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add some water or cream, if needed to thin out the frosting a bit.

TO LAYER THE CAKE:

21. To put together the espresso Kahlua mixture, combine the hot water, espresso powder and sugar and stir until well combined. Add the Kahlua and stir together. Set aside.
22. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat.
23. To build the cake, place the first layer of cake on a cardboard cake circle or a serving platter. Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of the espresso mixture over the cake layer. (For help with building a layer cake, check out my tutorial)
24. Use the mascarpone frosting to pipe a dam around the outer edge of the cake layer, then fill it with about 1/3 of the tiramisu filling. Spread evenly.
25. Add the second layer of cake, another 4-5 tablespoons of espresso mixture and another filling layer.
26. Repeat with the third layer of cake, espresso mixture and filling.
27. Add the final layer of cake on top and then add a crumb coat of frosting (a very thin layer). Put the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour if it seems like it needs to firm up a bit.
28. Frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
29. Dust the top of the cake with some cocoa powder, then use the remaining frosting to pipe a border around the top and bottom edges. I used Ateco tip 844. Finish off the cake with some chocolate covered espresso beans.
30. Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge prior to serving. Cake is best if eaten within 2-3 days.


Keywords: tiramisu cake, tiramisu layer cake, what is tiramisu cake, how to make tiramisu cake

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Recipe rating

30 Comments
  1. Tiffany

    Wow! This was the best cake we have ever had. There were a lot of steps, but the steps were fairly simple. My filling melted a bit, so next time I will definitely put the cake in the fridge after each layer…even if it doesn’t feel hot inside.
    Anyway, thank you for this awesome recipe.

  2. Brenda Milcetic

    Hi Lindsay,
    Am looking to make this fantastic looking cake for my husband’s 67th birthday. Our oven won’t hold 4 cake pans on one rack. How do you suggest I bake the 4 of them?
    Thank you Lindsay

    1. Brenda Milcetic

      Hi Lindsay,
      Sorry to bother you again. Can this cake be made and assembled the day before and stored in the fridge. Or would it be too moist from the Kahlua sauce?

      Thank you,
      Brenda

    2. Lindsay

      Sorry, I seem to have missed this part of your question. You could bake two cake layers at a time, if they’ll fit.

  3. PIREESHARNI D/O JEEVANTHAM

    HI Lindsay,

    I would like to thank you for the wonderful recipe. It turn out so well. I did that for my cousin siser’s birthday. She love it. Honestly it was super delicious. Everyone in my family members wants me to do again. Your recipe is accurate and easy to do. I used 8 inch (3 pans). Even I add the lady finger biscuit in between for even more tastier. Highly reccomended recipe.

    From,
    Pireeshrni (Malaysia)

  4. Mayanka Khetarpal

    Hi Lindsay,

    The heavy whipping cream here is sweet is it ok to use that in the Tiramisu filling?

    Thanks,
    Mayanka

  5. ss

    Hi there,
    First, congratulations on the upcoming bundle of joy!!!

    I just wanted to know if the tiramisu filling could be made in advance? a day before assembly?
    If I’ not using kahlua, do I make more espresso? Would that not make it really strong? (the espresso flavor)

    ESPRESSO KAHLUA MIXTURE
    1/2 cup (120ml) hot water
    1–2 tbsp (10g) instant espresso coffee powder
    3 tbsp (39g) sugar
    1/4 cup (60ml) Kahlua

    1. Lindsay

      Thank you!

      I’m not really sure that’d recommend making the filling in advance. It firms up a bit as it sits in the fridge and with the whipped cream in it, I’m not sure that it would hold it’s structure as well after being refrigerated and stirred up again.

      As for leaving out the Kahlua, I’d recommend this mixture:

      3/4 cup hot water
      3 tbsp instant espresso powder
      4 tbsp sugar

      I hope that helps!

  6. HF

    Hi! I’m curious if you’ve frozen the assembled cake? I’m worried that the espresso drizzle between layers would just get soggy during defrosting. Thoughts? Thanks!!

  7. Doug

    Ok Erin, I’m going to jump into the deep end of the pool and use all 10 cups—thank you for the fast reply!

  8. Doug

    This recipe sounds intriguing and probably something I’ll be trying soon but I’m not keen on the frosting needing 10 cups of sugar—am I missing something?

    1. Lindsay

      You aren’t missing anything, it calls for 10 cups of powdered sugar. It is an American style Buttercream, which uses a good bit of powdered sugar to add volume and stability to the frosting. You could try reducing it, but you won’t get as much frosting and it won’t be as stable.

  9. Cathy Davidson

    Would it be possible to make this in a sheet pan???if so, how would you suggest using the toppings and frosting??

  10. Erin

    Yum! This cake looks pretty delicious, Lindsay! I’ve never actually had tiramisu, though I’ve had tiramisu gelato before. But I guess I should try it out sometime, and might as well go all the way and make my first tiramisu at home 🙂

    1. Lindsay

      Thanks Erin! You should definitely give it a try. I’ve always felt like it’s better at home than pretty much anywhere else I’ve gotten it. And there’s so many different ways you could try it on my site.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12