Tiramisu Layer Cake

I found myself hesitating to call this cake a “tiramisu” because I do take quite a few liberties with the traditional recipe, all to create a proper cake that can stand on its own and not a pudding that’s served from a dish.

Tiramisu Layer Cake

So, instead of sponge fingers or Budoir biscuits, I used sponge layers. Instead of just plain coffee, the sponges are soaked in a spiked coffee sugar-syrup. And finally — this may be the most heinous change — I replaced mascarpone cheese with cream cheese so that I could have a sturdy enough icing to fill and cover the sponges.

Is it still tiramisu? I’d like to think it is.

Recipe for Tiramisu Layer Cake

Serves 8 to 12.


  • 2 6-inch Genoise sponge layers (from this recipe), left in their tins after baking

For the coffee soaking syrup:

  • 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp coffee liquor, e.g. Tia Maria or Kahlua

For the cream cheese icing:

  • 1 block (8 oz.) Philadelphia cream cheese, cold
  • 60g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tbsp coffee liquor
  • 10g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (opt.)
  • More unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting


Step 1: Make the coffee syrup by heating the coffee and sugar in a pot over high heat. Allow to boil for a few minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature and stir in coffee liquor.

Step 2: Evenly distribute the soaking syrup between the two sponges that have been cooled after baking and still in their tins. Allow the sponges to sit, still in their tins, in the fridge for at least 2 hours, overnight at best.

Step 3: To make the cream cheese icing, place the cold cream cheese and icing sugar in a large bowl and beat with a large spoon until combined and smooth. Thin the icing down with coffee liquor until it is a spreadable but still quite stiff consistency. Mix in the cocoa powder if using.

Step 4: To assemble the cake, carefully remove the sponges from their tins. If they’ve been left for enough time, there should be no excess liquid at the bottom of the tins. Nonetheless, they are still sodden and quite fragile, so please be careful with them once they’re out of their tins. Use plates or cake boards to help you move them around.

Step 5: Place one sponge layer on your serving board and evenly spread a third of the icing on it. Place the second sponge on top and use the remaining icing to spread over the top and down the sides. Sift a layer of cocoa powder over the top to finish the cake.

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