Tiramisu (in two days)

March 14th, 2010

So it took two days to make one Tiramisu. Yes, two days. I’m still trying to decipher why as most cookbooks estimate between 30 minutes to an hour if you’re using pre-made Savoiardi. I wanted to make the whole thing from scratch, including the ladyfingers, but come on, two days. It began with a desire to make something with my eldest daughter P since I had recently enjoyed making a Meyer Lemon Tart with her younger sister. P had suggested Tiramisu, something I haven’t prepared before, and I happily agreed.

Day 1. You can find the recipe for Tiramisu in many cookbooks, there are currently 19 in the database, and though the principles are the same they can vary a little by ingredients and a lot by construction, some directly in a wine goblet and the majority prepared in pie dishes or as a rectangular cake. We decided to stick with the classic ingredients but design our own version using a round spring form pan to build it in. We’d make the layers out of sponge cake and then use the ladyfingers around the outside. Excuse the pun but, piece of cake right? It was a day of frustration and turned out to be more of an education and practice session. I don't know what it was. Disorganization, selecting the wrong recipe to follow, or the baking planets just weren’t aligned. I chose the ladyfingers recipe from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg (not in the database yet), and in hindsight I’m not sure why, maybe because it’s a big and impressive book but it’s baking on an industrial scale, and the ladyfingers turned out flat and the sponge cake dense and chewy. With the prep, baking and photography the day was getting long, and as P observed me struggling I wondered if she thought that making Tiramisu had to be this difficult. You can bake anything when you have time, vision, determination and an endless supply of eggs and flour, but I knew at that point it was only going to get worse if we continued.

Day 2. We began day two with a renewed sense of optimism. This time for the ladyfingers and the sponge cake we went straight for the Perfect Génoise from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. We stuck exactly to the recipe for the ladyfingers but for the sponge cake we added some whipped egg whites to the mixture for some added lightness to the layers. Both turned out perfect.

We cut the sponge cake out using a small plate and then began building the dessert (I went a little easy on the brandy and coffee since I didn't want to have buzzed and wired teens bouncing off the walls). For the mascarpone filling we used Mario Batali’s Tiramisu recipe in Molto Mario, which has a really rich and silky texture.

Despite the trials we had to go through to get there I think we were both happy with the final results. I’ll double check with her to see if she wants to make it again, but having learnt from the experience I feel a lot more prepared for the next time.

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