Tiramisu Birthday Cake

Tiramisu Birthday Cake

This tiramisu birthday cake was the first of several cakes baked for my 50th zoom birthday party party. I made multiple cakes and delivered frozen slices to friends so that everyone could enjoy a piece of homemade birthday cake.

This birthday cake tiramisu is a essentially a tiramisu without raw egg. Two yellow cake layers are soaked in a coffee-flavored syrup and filled with a cream cheese frosting lightened with whipped cream. If you like tiramisu, this is a cake for you.

Tiramisu is classically made with raw eggs. However, Public Health likes to remind us that the consumption of raw or undercooked potentially hazardous foods may result in foodborne illness. And yes, that does include unbaked cookie dough [cough]. And so I present to you a two-layer cake that is a birthday cake tiramisu without raw egg.

This recipe is adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours. If you want to read an online version, there is a post from a popular blogger that copied the original recipe word for word. Enough said.

Adaptations to the tiramisu birthday cake recipe

I made the following adaptations to the original:

  • I increased the baking soda from 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp.
  • I subbed concentrated decaf coffee for the espresso powder in order to avoid caffeinating the kiddo – I made a double strength cup of coffee and then reduced it on the stovetop to 1/4 cup. Feel free to use the original ratio of 2 tbsp instant espresso in 2 tbsp boiling water, but you’ll want to increase the amount (see below).
  • My notes on the original recipe say: “great concept. too dry. totally soak?” So I tripled the amount of coffee syrup and soaked the cake layers right after I removed them from the pans.
  • I subbed equivalent weight of cream cheese for the mascarpone.

FAQs about this tiramisu cake

How long do I need to cream butter?

Probably longer than you have been. While you can overbeat butter, it does take several minutes to get it to be light, fluffy, and doubled in volume.

What can I do with that one egg white?

I use leftover egg whites for granola, or I store it in the fridge until I have a couple to get in some macaron practice. This is the recipe and instructions I’ve had best success with so far.

What do I do if I don’t have a stand mixer?

The cakes can be made using a hand mixer. When making the filling, you can combine the cream cheese mixture by hand if your cream cheese is soft. That way you can use your hand mixer for the whipped cream.

Why does this cake have so little frosting?

This doesn’t make a lot of frosting, which is fine if you want to freeze the cake or let your little imp add sprinkles and other things piece by piece. Feel free to double the recipe if you like a lot of frosting.

How long will this cake stay fresh in the refrigerator?

This cake actually needs a bit of time in the fridge to set up before serving and so should be perfect for a day or two in the fridge. It will be fine to leave for another day or two, but any more than that and I would probably freeze it.

Can I freeze this cake?

YES. Most cakes freeze very well. I leave cakes overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, I slice the remaining cake into the amount I want for the three of us, wrap each large slice in two layers of sturdy plastic wrap, put the slices into a freezer bag, and try to squeeze out any air. To defrost, pull out the cake, unwrap it, and put it on a plate while still frozen. Depending on the size of your slice and your room temperature, it will take ~2 hours to defrost.

the bottom layer of the tiramisu cake being decorated with chocolate chips
the sandwiched layers of the tiramisu cake

Tiramisu birthday cake

Servings 12
Author uglyducklingbakery


Cake layers

  • 2 cups (250g) cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

Soaking syrup

  • 1 cup strongly brewed coffee or substitute instant espresso powder in boiling water (see note)
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp Kahlua or other liqueur (e.g. madeira, sweet marsala, etc)

Filling and frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (57g) powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Kahlua or other liqueur (e.g. madeira, sweet marsala, etc)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
  • unsweetened cocoa, for dusting, if desired


Cake layers

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and line two 9"x2" cake pans with parchment paper, lightly butter the parchment paper, then lightly dust the pans with flour.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
    2 cups (250g) cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue creaming until it is pale yellow, light, and fluffy. You will need to scrape the butter down from the sides of the bowl a few times during this process.
    10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened, 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • Add the egg yolk and then each of the three eggs, beating on medium speed for one minute and scraping the bowl down before adding the next.
    1 egg yolk, 3 eggs
  • Add the vanilla and beat for one minute.
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Add about one third (eye-balling is fine!) of the dry ingredients and beat on low until just incorporated, scrape down the bowl.
  • Add about one half of the buttermilk and beat on low until just incorporated.
    3/4 cup buttermilk
  • Continue by adding the next one third of dry ingredients, then the last buttermilk, and finally the last bit of dry ingredients, scraping down in between.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the two pans and bang them gently on the countertop to spread out the batter and remove any bubbles.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven at about 15 minutes, if needed, to ensure even baking. Start checking for doneness at about 25 minutes – the cakes will have colored slightly and a toothpick inserted the center will come out clean.
  • Let the cake layers cool in their pans for 10 minutes and then unmold them carefully onto cooling racks for soaking and cooling.
  • Clean the mixing bowl and beaters here to have them ready to go when you want to make the filling and frosting.

Soaking syrup and soaking the cake layers

  • While the cakes are baking, make the soaking syrup. If using coffee, brew a strong 8oz cup of coffee, and then, in a small pot, boil the coffee until it has reduced to about 1/4 cup (2 oz). Pour into a small measuring cup and use the same pot to make the rest of the syrup. (This coffee will be used both for the soaking syrup and to flavor the frosting.)
    1 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • In the same small pot, combine the sugar and water and boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
    1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cup water
  • Remove from heat, and add 3 tbsp of the kahlua (or other liqueur) and 3 tbsp of the coffee. Reserve the remaining coffee for the frosting.
    3 tbsp Kahlua or other liqueur (e.g. madeira, sweet marsala, etc)
  • Use a serrated knife to remove a thin layer off of the top of the cakes to help the syrup soak into the cake. You can use this to create a perfectly flat top to the cake layer if you want.
  • To soak the cake layers, put the cakes on their cooling racks over a baking sheet or piece of waxed paper. Starting with soaking the cake bottom (i.e. upside down), pour or use a silicone brush to drip about one quarter of the soaking syrup evenly across the cake layer. Carefully flip the layer over and repeat with the top of the cake layer. Repeat with the remaining syrup and second layer. Let cool to room temperature.

Filling and frosting

  • In the bowl of a mixer, blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and kahlua (or other liqueur).
    8 oz cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup (57g) powdered sugar, 1 tbsp Kahlua or other liqueur (e.g. madeira, sweet marsala, etc), 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • In a separate medium bowl, use a hand beater to whip the heavy cream until it achieves stiff peaks (the cream keeps its peaks when you lift the beater, and they don't flop over at all).
    1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • Add about one quarter of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  • By hand, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream just until evenly blended.


  • Place one cake layer right side up on a cake stand or plate. Spread about 1 cup of cream cheese filling thinly on top of this layer, and then spread the chocolate evenly.
    1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
  • Add the reserved coffee to the remaining cream cheese "filling" to make the "frosting" and stir gently stir until blended.
  • Place the second cake layer upside down on top of the first and use the remaining frosting to cover the cake.
  • Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving.
  • Dust cake slices with cocoa, if desired, right before serving.
    unsweetened cocoa, for dusting, if desired

What’s next?

If you make this tiramisu cake, please comment here or share a pic with on Instagram!

Check out other uglyducklingbakery cakes, including:
purple velvet cake
chocolate orange cake
Earl Grey and lavender cake
blackberry and lemon loaf cake

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