tiramisu sponge cake

This is definitely the ugliest cake I’ve ever made so bear with me. It tastes good.

The GS’ birthday was a week ago and my sous chef Greta and I balled out. He requested eggplant parmesan so we made that with homemade spaghetti and a spicy tomato sauce, plus this sponge cake.

I had seen this cake on Bon Appetit’s Instagram page a couple of months ago (it’s still a saved story and you should watch) and was absolutely mesmerized. She does it without a mixer which is actually mind-blowing but made for very impressive and entertaining viewing. She had me totally on board: sponge cake that is made with simple ingredients but lots of technique, soaked in coffee, a coffee-infused whipped cream… and then she slathered apricot jam between the layers and lost me.

So naturally I kept the cake and coffee part but swapped the jam for a chocolate marscarpone layer. I considered Nutella, but tried to keep it true to tiramisu because it’s one of the GS’ favorite desserts.

Again, you should watch the story instead of (or in addition to) reading my amateur instructions. This cake is not for the faint of heart.

Tiramisu Sponge Cake

4 eggs

6 oz (about 3/4 cup) sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup neutral oil

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup marscarpone cheese

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup crushed coffee beans

1 cup strong coffee

2 tbs sugar

For the coffee cream, crush some coffee beans (I just put them in a clean towel and whacked them a few times with a rolling pin) and steep in 1 cup heavy cream, just until the cream simmers. Remove from heat and refrigerate. Cream has to be COLD in order to whip, so you can do this way ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.

First step for the cake: dissolve the sugar in 1/4 cup boiling water. Then, we separate the eggs. I do this in the shell, and then I also learned in my Portuguese cooking class via Zoom that you should push the yolks through a fine mesh strainer to make sure you really got all the whites out. You can see that a little bit was still left behind for me. You also want to make sure you don’t get any yolk in the white, because the fat will prevent them from whipping up.


Gently pour the hot sugar water into the yolks, whisking continuously. Then add that to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment and let it fly. You could also do this with a hand mixer. We want them to get thick and really pale in color- almost the color of mayonnaise- and the whisk leaves a trail.


Then you’ll gently fold the yolks into the oil. It will look really weird and stringy at first, like this.


Gently add the yolks in increments until they are completely incorporated.

While this is happening you can have your whites going in the mixer. Just make sure the bowl is clean and dry when they go in! We’re looking for stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the yolks/oil, then gently sift in the flour and fold. There’s a LOT of air in this cake that we want to preserve so the flour has to go in carefully.

The batter should go in an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan lined at the bottom with parchment paper. I discovered I don’t have one of these and used my angel food cake pan, which worked out just fine. Bake at 325 for about 40 minutes or until the cake springs back. It has to be immediately removed from the pan.

While it’s baking, brew a cup of strong coffee. I used one of our Copper Cow Coffees. This isn’t sponsored (I wish) but it is delicious and portable Vietnamese pour-over coffee. Add two tablespoons of sugar. This is going to get poured over the cake so that it soaks in.


Once the cake has cooled completely, peel off the parchment paper and the top layer. It should just kind of roll off with your fingers. Carefully slice the cake in half so you have two layers, then pour the coffee over both to let it soak in.


Melt the chocolate over the stove in a double boiler setup, or in the microwave. Fold in the marscarpone. Spread half on one layer of the cake, then plop the other one on top and spread on the rest.


Whip the cold coffee infused cream! I like to do this in a metal bowl that I stick in the freezer for a while before to make sure it stays super cold. If it’s not cold enough it won’t whip for you. Spread that all over. Frosting is not a strength of mine so the cake was pretty ugly but OMG SO GOOD. Refrigerate the whole thing until serving.


Definitely for coffee lovers and not overly sweet. Also the kind of cake I just went ahead and left a butter knife in the fridge for so I could keep cutting wedges of it. They all add up to one piece, always. It’s my favorite kind of food math.


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