I had already planned the cake I was going to make for my daughter's twenty-second birthday and purchased all of the ingredients. It would be full of fresh, organic strawberries and orange cream. That was until she told me, at nearly the last minute, that she wanted tiramisù. Of course that changed everything. I always honor birthday requests, so I put the cartons of strawberries aside and started thinking tiramisù "cake". I did not want to serve tiramisù from a dish. I wanted it to look like a cake. For a birthday you need a cake. I also had to consider my other daughter. She cannot eat gluten. If I was going to make tiramisù the ladyfingers, a key ingredient of Italian tiramisù, could not be a ready-made Italian, grocery store variety. They needed to be homemade, by me, with my Turkey Red flour, a heritage flour my daughter can painlessly digest, from Sunrise Flour Mill in Minnesota.
I chose a tiramisù recipe that included whipped heavy cream, not always a tiramisù ingredient. When combined with the mascarpone cheese and egg yolks, then layered between the espresso-soaked ladyfingers it guaranteed the loaf cake, when unmolded, would hold its shape. I used a nifty, French loaf pan with sides that collapse, but any pan of similar capacity and lined in plastic wrap will release the cake when inverted.
The only minor problem I encountered was in making the ladyfingers. I've realized I need to start measuring my egg whites or purchase medium sized eggs. The large organic eggs I've recently been using could easily pass for extra-large. When working with any batter that is piped, if it is too liquid it will spread. I've lately run into this with choux pastry and some cookies. I was tempted to remake the ladyfingers that, as you can see above, spread during baking. But they tasted great and worked beautifully in the making of my tiramisù, so I left them as is... My (sometimes feeble) attempt at not needing everything to always be perfect... They were, however, perfect in the end result.
Ladyfingers | (adapted) recipe by Emeril Lagasse
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose, unbleached flour
• 4 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 4 egg whites, beaten until stiff, but not dry
• Pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Confectioners' sugar for dusting
PREHEAT OVEN to 350˚F
1. Grease two baking sheets with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Dust each baking sheet entirely with flour.
2. Combine the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is yellow, thick, and has tripled in volume, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add to this the whipped egg whites, salt, and vanilla. Fold the mixture while slowly sifting in the 3/4 cup flour. Fold the mixture well until smooth.
3. Fill a large pastry bag, fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, with the batter. Pipe twelve, 4-inch lengths, well spaced, onto each baking sheet. Dust the lady fingers with the Confectioners' sugar. Bake until just firm on the outside and light brown in color, about 15 to 18 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and transfer ladyfingers to a cooling rack.
Tiramisù Loaf Cake | (adapted) recipe from Renée Kemps
• 250 ml double cream
• 75 gr sugar
• 4 eggs (yolks)
• 500 gr mascarpone cheese
• 5 tbs coffee liqueur (optional)
• 200 ml espresso coffee
• 250 gr ladyfingers (made with recipe above, or purchased)
• Cocoa powder, for dusting
1. Line an 11-inch-by-3 1/2-inch loaf pan (or any pan of similar capacity) with plastic wrap extending 2-inches over each side. Set aside while you mix up the tiramisù.
2. Whip the cream just until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. In a large bowl beat the yolks with the sugar until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Stir the mascarpone cheese into the egg-sugar mixture. Fold in the whipped cream.
4. Mix the espresso and the liqueur (I used Kahlua) in a shallow dish. Take the ladyfingers and trim them to fit crosswise into the loaf pan. Dip the ladyfingers into the espresso and place a row over the bottom of the loaf pan, using any leftovers, dipped,from the trimmings to cover completely.
5. Pour half of the filling over the ladyfingers and spread mixture evenly. Repeat this step one more time, ending with a layer of espresso-dipped ladyfingers on top. Fold the extending plastic wrap over the top of the tiramisù and refrigerate for at least one day. If you can allow it to chill for two to three days, that's even better.
6. To unmold, fold back the plastic wrap and position a serving plate over the top of the tiramisù. Invert the tiramisù onto the plate and carefully lift off the loaf pan/mold. Gently remove the plastic wrap. Dust the top of the tiramisù liberally with the cocoa powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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