A few months ago, one of my coworker's announced that she married her long-time boyfriend in a private wedding ceremony. We were very excited for her and wanted to host a small celebration in her honor. I started searching for the perfect recipe to help her celebrate his new beginning and came across a berry tiramisu. I don't think I've ever had tiramisu-- it's not really my thing and halfway through this experiment, I came to the realization it’s really hard to make a recipe that you don’t know what the end product is going to taste like (probably obvious, but I guess I like to state the obvious).
The biggest obstacle for me was creating the sponge cake portion. I had a hard time incorporating the flour mixture into the egg mixture. The flour gobbed up (best description I can think of) and created pockets of flour surrounded by the wet-egg mixture. I was trying to be careful not to deflate the batter by mixing too hard so after a while I ended up baking the cake. The flour chunks softened when I added the syrup after it baked but I realized I need to learn how to fold flour into a wet mixture better. It was stressful!
Anyway, after that adventure, I assembled the cake and I have to say, this recipe is pretty incredible. My coworkers absolutely loved it! I am dreaming of strawberry season so I can make it again.
Fresh Berry Tiramisu
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 2 lemons, peeled in strips with a peeler
Juice of 2 lemons (1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice)
2 whole cloves
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice
1 pound mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup (8 ounces) whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 quarts berries: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or any combination you like
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease, or line with parchment, a 13 x 18-inch half-sheet pan or two 9-inch square pans (this would lead to a thicker cake).
To make the cake:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
Combine the eggs, sugar and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle one third of the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, and fold them in with a whisk, taking care not to deflate the batter. Repeat twice more with the remaining dry ingredients, then pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). If you’re using two 9-inch square pans, divide the batter evenly between them.
Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched with a finger.
Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan while still warm (as the cake baked, it pulled away from the edges of the pan, so I didn't need to do this). Place the cake on a rack to cool completely before taking it out of the pan.
To make the syrup:
Combine all the syrup ingredients and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture is clear, remove the syrup from the heat, strain it, and allow it to cool to room temperature.
To make the filling:
Place the mascarpone in a mixing bowl, and wisk in the orange zest. Add the whipping cream a third at a time, stirring between additions until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Beat for at least a minute or more as needed until the filling is light and fluffy.
Flip the cooled cake out of its baking pan or pans onto a piece of parchment paper. If you’ve baked on parchment, peel the parchment off the back. Pull the paper straight back, keeping it parallel to the surface of the cake; this will discourage any bits of cake from coming off with the paper.
Slice the cake in half down the middle, to make two roughly 9 by 13-inch rectangles. Trim the rectangles to make 9-inch squares, and set aside the excess to use for another purpose (trifle perhaps?). If you’ve used two 9-inch square pans, flip the cooled cakes out of their pans and peel the parchment off the bottoms.
Place one of the 9-inch squares in the bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch square pan (or a cake stand, plate, etc- basically, you can't really move the sponge cake after you soak it so make sure this is your final destination). Using a pastry brush, generously soak the cake with 1/2 cup of citrus syrup. You’ll need to dab the syrup on, let it soak in for a few minutes, then repeat the process.
After the cake has been soaked, spread half the mascarpone filling over the cake. Next, arrange a single layer of berries over the filling then place the second square of cake on top. Soak this layer of cake with syrup as you did before. Spread the remaining filling over the cake layer, then place the rest of the berries in an attractive design on the top (I started at the perimeter with sliced berries and moved towards the center). Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before serving.
Yield: one 9-inch cake, 16 2-inch squares.