Fresh Berry Tiramisu

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Fresh Berry Tiramisu

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Published prior to 2008

No other dessert combines such apparent opposites as light-textured sponge cake with the rich creaminess of mascarpone cheese as tiramisu. Literally translated as “pick me up”, the traditional flavors of this dessert are coffee and chocolate. With the advent of summer, we decided to try a version that uses a touch of citrus for zing, and plenty of cheerful fresh berries to put a smile on our faces. We’ve put together a sponge cake instead of the traditional ladyfingers, but if you want to save some time, store-bought ladyfingers can stand in.

Sponge cake
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) 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 (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) Grand Marnier or orange juice

1 pound mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup (8 ounces) whipping cream
1/2 cup (2 ounces) 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. Using two 9-inch squares will give you slightly thicker cake layers and one more pan to wash; using a half sheet pan has some trim waste, but there’s less dishwashing involved.

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. 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 stir 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.

To assemble: 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. 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. 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, place a single layer of berries over the cake. Spread half the mascarpone filling over the berries, then place the second square of cake on top. Soak this layer of cake with syrup as you did the first. Spread the remaining filling over the cake layer, then place the rest of the berries in an attractive design on the top. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before serving.
Yield: one 9-inch cake, 16 2-inch squares.

Nutrition information per serving (1 square, 189g): 326 cal, 18g fat, 6g protein, 13g complex carbohydrates, 25g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 131mg cholesterol, 212mg sodium, 213mg potassium, 226RE vitamin A, 48mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 72mg calcium, 100mg phosphorus.


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  • star rating 05/12/2014
  • Laura from ME
  • I made this for my dessert contribution to a Mother's Day dinner with the extended family. My in-laws are 100% Austrian, and are quite picky about their food, and my mother-in-law is an amazing baker, as is my sister-in-law. I'm a great cook/baker(if I do say so myself), but even so I'm always a bit nervous bringing or serving food to them. My father in law is actually the hardest to please. When he doesn't care for something, you usually get no comment at all and a half eaten whatever-it-is. When he likes something you get a "this is good," and that's it. With this dessert, they both cleaned their plates and his response was "Very good. You can make this again." Success. I found the recipe fairly easy to put together, although preparing the various elements took me a bit longer than expected. The cake was a breeze, and I even accidentally added the sugar amount for the syrup recipe(which was 1/4 cup less), and didn't realize until it was in the oven. Oops. No problem though; plenty sweet enough especially since you are going to soak it in syrup anyway, and it baked up fine. I used a half sheet pan which made about a 1/2-3/4" cake and after trimming I ended up with roughly 71/2" squares, not 9" which was fine. I would have just made a rectangle and not trimmed so much, but I really wanted to use a pretty red square plate I had! I followed the syrup recipe exactly, and had no problem using up all the syrup. I suppose you could skimp and thus end up with extra, but seeing as I had already reduced the sugar in the cake I figured I would use it up. Glad I did, because it really gives you that soaked, not just flavored, "tiramisu" feel. I was a little worried that all the variety of flavorings would be too much (two types of citrus, liquor, almond and, and almost didn't add the almond extract after reading other reviews, but I am glad I did. The overall flavor is really a nice merge of the traditional almond flavoring and a fresh citrus, which works surprisingly well. I would suggest making it as is once and adjusting it for your tastes. I used strawberries, so maybe if using different fruits you may want to make changes. The ONLY issue I had with the recipe was the consistency of the filling. I measured/weighed out exactly and came up with a rather runny mixture. I checked and double checked the instruction to make sure it doesn't say to whip it together(it only tells you to stir it together until smooth), and was really surprised because you would think with whipping cream you would need to agitate it. I put it in the fridge for about an hour after giving it a couple brisk whips with my whisk, and figured maybe it would set up and thicken a bit, but when I went to add it to the first layer it just sort of ran right over the edge. So I threw the second half(for the top) back into the mixer bowl and used the whisk attachment to whip it for about 30 seconds and it worked like a charm. Nice and fluffy and gave it enough substance to stay put on the top and held the berries in place perfectly. I wonder if anyone else had this issue and ended up beating the filling as well?? That would be the only change I would recommend for this recipe. Overall, it was a huge success as both kids and adults gobbled it up even after a hugely filling meal. It is a perfect summer-y dessert(just right for mother's day) and does feel light, although it's clearly not! I even left a small piece for my father-in-law:)
  • star rating 11/28/2013
  • sumi from NY
  • I made the cake and syrup and used a pineapple filling and whipped cream. But I felt almond extract to be a bit strong flavor though everyone liked it. I wonder how it would taste with vanilla extract. I think might be better. The cake was easy to make and came really good. I have a question what difference does using extra large eggs instead of large eggs can make in a cake. Thank you.
  • star rating 08/07/2013
  • David from Hamilton, NJ
  • I baked this on a half sheet pan and got a 1/4 thick cake, was planning on using for a cannoli cake but that will not be happening
    We're sorry to hear of the difficulty with the recipe. Please call our hotline if you would like to troubleshoot. MJR @ KAF
  • star rating 06/02/2013
  • Misty from Baltimore, MD
  • I followed this recipe as written. It looked gorgeous, and while all the components of this recipe tasted really well separately, i didn't like them put together. Lemon syrup plus a hint of almond in the sponge cake strongly reminded me of artificial candy, and the syrup made the finished cake taste too sweet to me. I ended up disassembling the cake, pureeing the mascarpone cream with berries and making a parfait with bits of cake on top. In fact, if i repeat this recipe I'd half the syrup, omit almond extract, and serve this cake as a trifle. I have to say that this is the first KAF recipe that didn't turn out stellar, I've had wonderful results with dozens and dozens of recipes I've tried over the years. Just wasn't for my taste.
  • star rating 04/28/2012
  • Rolling_In_Dough from KAF Community
  • This was extremely good. My whole family loved it. The sponge cake was very light very moist due to the syrup. The mascarpone cream tasted light (despite the heavy cream) and not too sweet. Next time I will try this with fresh raspberries.
  • star rating 03/12/2012
  • Shelly from
  • Just made this cake for my kid's half-birthday and everyone loved it! The sponge cake was easy to make, thanks to the technique of beating the whole eggs and sugar together first (as opposed to separating the eggs and beating them separately). The cake was on a dry side (typical of sponge cake I think) but the syrup really brought back the moistness and enhanced the flavor! I used only about half of the syrup though. The rich cheese cream was absolutely delish and went great with the berries! The cake smelled and looked amazing, too!
  • star rating 08/09/2011
  • MrPuppersDog from KAF Community
  • I was feeling lazy and so I used ladyfingers instead of making the cake. The final result was good. I have to admit that I still favour the more traditional tiramisu with chocolate and expresso.
  • star rating 08/16/2010
  • redheadbaker from KAF Community
  • Outstanding recipe! I made this cake for a friend's birthday. She said that she like cakes that are light, with custard or filling that is flavorful and with strawberries. Not wanting to defer to my usual strawberry shortcake I am so glad that I chose this recipe because it rolls all three of her wishes in to one delicious and elegant cake. There are several steps but this is quite an easy recipe, just follow the directions! The syrup recipe makes quite a bit extra and I am curious if anyone out there has any ideas for it's use. I used two 8" square cake pans with parchment paper on the bottom and it turned out beautifully. The presentation is quite stunning. I am looking for another occasion to make this one again!
  • star rating 04/16/2010
  • Hazel from San Leandro, Ca
  • Everyone loved it when I served it at a party. I love how light and airy the cake is. It absorbed the citrus syrup well. I placed blackberries and strawberries in rows on top and everyone was impressed with how beautiful it looked on my square cake stand!
  • star rating 08/07/2009
  • Glenys from OKC, OK
  • Best ever. Yes it took a little more time but it was worth it and looked good
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