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Tiramisu Ombre Cake

Question: Is there ever enough Tiramisu in the world? Answer: NO.


  • Cake
  • 225 g unsalted butter (1 cup)
  • 225 g golden caster sugar (1 cup)
  • 225 g plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 vanilla pod seeds scraped
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • For the coffee syrup
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 80 g golden caster sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 120 ml water (1/2 cup)
  • For the mascarpone frosting
  • 250g Philadelphia cream cheese (9 ounces)
  • 750 g mascarpone (26 ounces)
  • 115 g icing sugar (1 cup) sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 vanilla pod seeds scraped
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 25 g 70% dark chocolate (1 ounce)


  1. Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/350°F. Grease and line 3 6" cake tins.
  3. Start by making the base cake mixture. You can make this like you would a regular cake, by creaming the butter and sugar, then beating in the eggs, milk and vanilla and then folding in the flour and raising agents.
  4. The next stage requires just a little bit of maths if you'd like to be accurate, but don't worry if you don't have scales or don't want to do this. Weigh the entire batter mix. You then want to separate the batter into 3 portions - half and two quarters. Into the largest portion, carefully fold in the espresso powder. Into one of the smaller portions, fold in the cocoa powder. Leave the remaining smaller portion as it is.
  5. Split the coffee mixture between the two tins and level the tops. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin before removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Clean the tins, grease and line again and pour the vanilla and chocolate portions of the batter into each one. Bake as above.
  6. For the coffee syrup
  7. Place the espresso powder, sugar and water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved, Remove from the heat and cool.
  8. For the mascarpone frosting
  9. Add the powdered sugar and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl along with the vanilla bean paste and mix until smooth. Then add all the mascarpone and milk and beat using an electric hand mixer until everything is smooth. Separate the frosting as you did the cake mixture - into roughly half and two quarters. If you choose to weigh it, aim for two portions of about 125 g, leaving the remainder in the original mixing bowl.
  10. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool for one minute. After this time, stir the chocolate into one of the smaller portions of mascarpone. Stir the espresso powder into the other smaller portion of mascarpone. Leave the biggest portion as it is.
  11. To assemble
  12. Level the tops of the cakes using a bread knife if necessary. Pour the coffee syrup evenly over the tops of the cakes and allow to soak in. The cake will be easiest to assemble if you have a cake turntable in order to achieve a smooth frosting. If not, don't worry, you can go for a more rustic look!
  13. Place the chocolate cake onto the turntable (or cake stand). Spread a small amount of the vanilla frosting on top (you can do this as thick or as thin as you like, as there will be plenty of frosting). Place a coffee cake on top, followed by more vanilla frosting. Repeat with the remaining coffee cake and the vanilla cake, each time filling with vanilla frosting. Roughly spread some vanilla frosting over the entirety of the cake (crumb coat). Place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes.
  14. Once chilled, begin the ombre frosting. Starting with the chocolate frosting, very roughly apply the frosting to the bottom quarter of the cake. Next, roughly apply the coffee frosting to the next quarter of the cake. If the two layers overlap, that's good! It adds to the ombre effect. Cover the rest of the cake roughly with vanilla frosting. You will have leftover frosting which is helpful if you need to do any touch ups!
  15. Smooth out the frosting to achieve a clean finish as in the photos above, or leave the frosting more rustic if you prefer!
  16. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the cake to a cake stand. Dust the top of the cake liberally with cocoa powder for that final tiramisu touch.