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Tiramisu cake with ombre mascarpone frosting on a plater dusted with cocoa powder.

Tiramisu Cake

Create a stunning tiramisu cake with quadruple ombre layers and the perfect mascarpone frosting - THE best way to impress for a birthday or even a wedding!
Course Dessert
Cuisine British, Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 551kcal


  • 280 g unsalted butter room temperature, 1 ¼ cups, 2 ½ sticks
  • 280 g golden caster sugar 1 ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons, superfine sugar
  • 280 g all purpose flour 2 ¼ cups + 1 tablespoon
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 eggs US large, UK medium
  • 60 ml milk ¼ cup
  • ½ vanilla pod seeds scraped or 2 teaspoons extract
  • 1 ½ tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoon cocoa powder

For the coffee syrup

  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 100 g golden caster sugar ½ cup
  • 120 ml water ½ cup

For the mascarpone frosting

  • 750 g mascarpone 26 ounces
  • 125 g icing sugar 1 cup, sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ vanilla pod seeds scraped or 1 teaspoon extract
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 25 g 70% dark chocolate 1 ounce

To finish


  • Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/350°F. Lightly grease and line 2 (or 4 if you have them and the oven space!) 6" loose bottomed cake tins.

Cake batter - Food Processor Method

  • To prepare the cake mixture in the food processor: place the room temperature butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a few times until the ingredients are combined. Add the eggs one by one, and pulse 1-3 times after each egg. Finish by adding the milk and vanilla seeds and process until just combined. Take care not to overmix the batter.
    280 g unsalted butter, 280 g golden caster sugar, 280 g all purpose flour, 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder, 5 eggs, 60 ml milk, ½ vanilla pod, ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Cake batter - Hand/Stand Mixer Method

  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the room temperature butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until smooth and light in colour. Beat in the eggs one by one, with a spoon of the flour mix after each egg. Beat in the milk and vanilla and then slowly mix in the remaining flour mixture until smooth. Beat it for no longer than 30 seconds.
    280 g unsalted butter, 280 g golden caster sugar, 280 g all purpose flour, 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder, 5 eggs, 60 ml milk, ½ vanilla pod, ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Making the Coloured Layers

  • Weigh the entire batter mix. Then separate the batter into 3 portions - half and two quarters. Our full batter measured as follows - 1150g. Half = 575g, Quarter = 287g. Roughly measured is just fine.
  • 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. Omit this step if you aren’t going to do coloured layers and just split the mixture between four 6 inch cake tins.
    1 ½ tablespoon espresso powder, 1 ½ tablespoon cocoa powder

Baking the Cakes

  • Split the coffee mixture between the two tins and level the tops. Place in the oven and bake for 25 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.

For the Coffee Syrup

  • 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.
    2 tablespoons espresso powder, 100 g golden caster sugar, 120 ml water

For the Mascarpone Frosting

  • Place the mascarpone into a large bowl. Add the icing sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and the vanilla seeds. Using a spatula, gently stir together until the mixture is smooth, adding up to another tablespoon of milk if needed. Separate off two portions of 125g of frosting into two smaller bowls, leave the rest in the original mixing bowl.
    750 g mascarpone, 125 g icing sugar, 1-2 tablespoons milk, ½ vanilla pod
  • Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in 30 second bursts. Leave to cool for one minute. After this time, stir the chocolate into one of the smaller portions of mascarpone frosting. Stir the espresso powder into the other smaller portion of mascarpone. Leave the biggest portion as it is.
    1 teaspoon espresso powder, 25 g 70% dark chocolate

Assembling the Tiramisu Cake

  • 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!
  • Place the chocolate cake onto a cake board/stand or plate (use a turntable if you have one). Evenly spread ⅓ cup of vanilla frosting on top, place a coffee cake on top followed by ⅓ cup of frosting, then the next coffee cake layer and ⅓ cup frosting and finally the vanilla cake layer. Using ⅓ cup of vanilla frosting lightly coat the outside of the cake all over (crumb coat). Place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes.

Creating the Ombre Frosting

  • Starting with the chocolate frosting, pipe or roughly apply the frosting to the bottom quarter of the cake. Follow by applying 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!
  • Smooth out the frosting to achieve a clean finish as in the photos above, or roughly spread the frosting for a more rustic look if you prefer! Finish with a thick dusting of cocoa powder on top.
    cocoa powder


Here's a helpful video tutorial for ombre frosting.
Make sure the mascarpone is room temperature for mixing in the melted chocolate portion otherwise it will split and go grainy. 
Also ensure the butter is room temperature for ease of creaming or processing.
If you only have two cake tins, leaving the remaining batter for the last two layers on the side is fine just for cooking time of the first two. 
Make sure to use quality chocolate for the chocolate frosting section - at least 75%.
This recipe makes a 4 layer 6 inch cake. If you wanted to, you could make an 2 layer 8 inch cake - just bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes each instead. If you wanted to make a 4 layer 8 inch cake, simple double the cake and frosting recipe. 
The recipe for the cake layers is slightly adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery  


Serving: 1 slice | Calories: 551kcal | Carbohydrates: 48.6g | Protein: 6.1g | Fat: 36.7g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4.9g | Cholesterol: 154.5mg | Sodium: 230.2mg | Potassium: 103.3mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 34.2g | Vitamin A: 144.8IU | Calcium: 91.7mg | Iron: 1.4mg