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Food Sunday – Tiramasu


Okay, so not such a happy Sunday for the world, is it Bread Heads? I went back and forth about posting this today, what with the disaster in Japan (earthquake, tsunami, partial meltdowns, volcano’s) but I finally came to the conclusion that there has to be some normality, even in the face of disaster. It is to that end that I post this recipe for Tiramisu.

Tiramisu used to be wildly popular, both in the US and in Italy. It has now been relegated to over-processed and dubious servings at Italian restaurant chains. Which is really sad, because there is nothing very hard about making it, if you have a hand mixer and about an hour of work time and 6 hours of chill time you can have it tonight.

This dish owes its inspiration to the English dish trifle which stale cake, usually soaked in some kind of rum or other liquor and then folded into whipped cream. This dish gets it richness from the egg yolks and egg whites that a whipped separately then combined with whipped cream.

Yes, that is right this is a raw egg dish so there is some chance of salmonella but it is pretty small. To reduce it even further I use the freshest eggs I can find. People do get sick from this kind of thing, all I can say is that I never have, so you will have to be your own gage on this.

So with that word of caution, let’s bake!


The traditional way to make this dish is with lady fingers. I hate lady fingers, besides who wants to give up some digits for a dessert? So, we are going to start with an all purpose sponge cake called Genoise.

Ingredients for Genoise:

½ cup cake flour
¼ corn starch
3 eggs plus three yolks
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Baking pan – either a 10”x 15” (one quarter sheet pan) or a 9”x 13” Pyrex baking dish, greased and lined with parchment paper.

Ingredients for Tiramisu:

1 Genoise cake
3 eggs separated
12 oz mascarpone cheese
½ cup chilled heavy cream
2 cups strong brewed and cooled coffee (if you have a home espresso maker, that would be better and I am totally jealous!)
1/3 cup Amaretto or Frangelico (Dark Rum could be substituted but I really prefer one of the first too)
Pinch of salt
2 oz dark chocolate

Baking pan – 1 8”x 8” casserole dish

Method for Genoise:

Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Grease and line your baking sheet (you can find a very nice aluminum ¼ sheet pan at any restaurant supply store for about $5) or baking dish with parchment paper. Do not skip this step or you will not be able to get your cake out of the pan!

Place a pan of water on the burner of your stove and get it going to a simmer

Measure out the cake flour and corn starch into your sifter (yes, you have to sift this!) and sift once onto some wax paper. Pour the shifted flour back into the shifter and set it aside.

Separate the three yolks into a metal mixing bowl (Pyrex will work, but metal is better), crack in the other three eggs and wish together. Whisk in the sugar in a stream and then the salt.

Place the bowl over the simmering water and gently whisk until the eggs are lukewarm (about 100 degrees).

Remove from the heat and using your electric mixer or your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip at high speed until the egg mixture is cold and has increased in volume.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift about 1/3 of the flour-corn starch mixture onto the egg mixture. Using a spatula fold to combine. Repeat this two more times. Be gentle but firm with the flour. You want to make sure it is all incorporated before you go on to the next batch.

Pour the batter into you prepared pan and use the spatula to get it into the corners and even on the top. Slip the pan into the hot oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. The cake will be golden brown on top. Check with a tooth pick for doneness. It should come out dry and clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then gently pull up the edges of the parchment paper and remove it from the pan. Let the cake cool completely (about another twenty minutes).

Gently peel away the parchment paper and let the cake sit out on the rack to firm up a little more.

Method for Tiramisu:

You will be beating egg whites, egg yolks and cream in separate bowls. If you don’t have three metal bowls (the ideal for whipping like this) or only have the one work bowl for your stand mixer you are going to be doing some cleaning, in any case you will be cleaning your beaters or whisk attachment between each of batch.

Begin by putting a metal bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer in the ‘fridge. We are going to do the egg whites first, and a cold bowl helps to get them really light and fluffy.

Separate your eggs by putting the whites into a small bowl, one at a time. When you have the first white in there, transfer it to another bowl; this way if you mess up and get yolk in the white on the third one you don’t have to start over. It dirties another bowl but it saves eggs in the long run. Trust me on this. Put the yolks in a small bowl and put it in the ‘fridge. Keeping eggs cold is part of keeping them safe to eat.

Pour your egg whites into your cold bowl and using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer or your beaters beat them with the pinch of salt until they just hold soft peaks. About 3 minutes at high speed. Add ¼ cup of the sugar in a stream, while beating. Continue to beat at high speed until the whites hold stiff peaks (another 2-3 minutes).

Using a clean spatula, scrape them into a bowl and cover. Stash them in the ‘fridge.

Using a clean bowl and clean beaters, beat the egg yolk and the remaining ½ cup sugar at medium speed until it increases in volume and becomes pale yellow, just like the Genoise batter before the flour.

Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until just blended. Scrape into a bowl and stash in the ‘fridge.

Using a clean bowl and clean beaters, beat the cold cream until it holds soft peaks (they will kind of droop over at the top). Get the two egg mixtures from the ‘fridge. Fold the cream into the yolk and cheese mixture, again gently but firmly. Fold in the egg whites the same way.

Stash all of it in your ‘fridge.

Cut your cake into 8 8’x 2” strips (or as close as you can get). In a pie pan or a cake dish combine the coffee and liquor. Dip one of the strips into the mixture and then place it in the bottom of the 8”x 8” baking dish. Repeat three more times to cover the bottom.

Remove your cream from the chill chest and slather half of it over the cake. Then using the remaining cake, dip it into the coffee and make another layer (I like to go up and down for the first lay and side to side on the second, it gives the dessert more structure). Slather on the remaining cream.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 6 -24 hours. When it is time to serve, remove the plastic and grate the chocolate over the top. Cut into pieces and serve.

So, it seems like a lot of work when you type it out but really it is very easy. Just give it a whirl and you will blow the socks off of your friends and family when you bring out this dessert.

The flour (and this week the cream) is yours!

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Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for