Ever since I started baking, and going out on the WWW in search of interesting recipes, I have more often than not settled on recipes out of blogs written by women. I wonder why? Perhaps, it is that extra bit of attention to detail, the pretty photographs, the detailed recipes and the steps involved that put them apart. Mine on the other hand, as you would have noticed, is a quick and nasty approach of documenting my experiments with the oven. On that note this post is dedicated to the women in my life that have have touched upon various facets at various points in my life.

Firstly Happy Birthday Mum, I am who I am, in big parts thanks to you. Your volumes of meticulously hand written recipes are an inspiration.

To my primary school chum – Sonya, who melts at the mention of the word Tiramisu, you have been the best find in years. After being classmates for the first four years of schooling life, Sonya left never to be seen or heard from again. Let me add at this point she was one of the model students (in all senses). Over the years, after Sonya left, I always wondered where would she be and what would have happened to her.
That answer came to me thanks to our friend Facebook. Imagine bumping into a grown up gorgeous doctor some 20 years later. I must say, neither was I surprised she had turned out to be gorgeous or the small matter that she was now a Doctor. I as much expected it. But what got me excited
was that I had found my long lost friend! Doc, thank you for re-connecting and thank you for just being there.

To the lady whose posts I read religiously, enviously every time and secretly aspire to emulate her presentation of food she dishes up in her kitchen – Shumaila, I doff my hat to you. I wish, I had half as much zest as you do, when it comes to baking/cooking. Also thanks for the kick in the back to spur me on with my posts.

To the woman I have never met, but continues to amaze me – The Pioneer Woman – Ree Drummond, thank you for inspiring me to enjoy the little joys of life.

Now onto the business end of things, the recipe for a Triamisu cake. I made this on the ocassion of a friends birthday recently and was quite
impressed myself.

Ingredients (serves 10)

For the cake

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks(10 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

For the Espresso Extract

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

For the Espresso Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto, kahlua or brandy (I used 3 tablespoons of kahlua)

For the filling and frosting

  • 250 gms  mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ameretto, kahlua or brandy (I used 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 60 gms  bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store bought mini chocolate chips (or more, to cover the layer completely)
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Method

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pan with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on baking sheet.
  • Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.
  • Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one by one, and then the yolk, beating for one minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  • Don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients).
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake for 28 to 30 minutes,rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean.
  • Transfer the cakes to a rack and cook for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

To make the extract:

  • Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.

To make the syrup:

  • Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy. Set aside.

To make the filling and frosting:

  • Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.

Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds form peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch. Add the remaining 1 to 1.5 tablespoon of espresso extract into the mascarpone cream. Taste to decided how much extract you want to add.

To assemble the cake:

  • If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them.
  • Place one layer right side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper.
  • Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup.
  • Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer- use about 1 1/4 cups- and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling.
  • Put the second cake later on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

Use the remaining cream to frost the top of the cake. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread on the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.

With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. Decorate with chocolate covered espresso beans.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or up to one day) before serving, so that the elements have enough time to meld.

Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder.