Baileys and coffee go together like sugar cane juice with lime or a Gin & Tonic – which I’ve found out was originally concocted by British soldiers to prevent malaria in colonial India (important facts we learn in Food Science). Well, in this case, Baileys and coffee in a tiramisu combine to serve a greater purpose of its own, Mother’s Day!
Incorporating Baileys into a tiramisu is a no-brainer, but I wanted to seize the rare opportunity in which I could make a big fat layer cake. I am a huge fan of naked cakes, not only because they look rustic and unpretentious, but because it disguises my inability to frost cleanly (which pains the OCD in me). Because if you can’t win the game, change the rules #amiright.
I decided to use a simple sponge cake for maximal soaking and came across a recipe for a Portuguese version called Pao de Lo (shoutout to Richard). From there the cake just needs a boozy soak, lashings of whipped mascarpone, a couple hours in the fridge and a quick dusting of cocoa powder. Surely, that’s simple enough compared to waddling around for 9 months followed by the torturous effort of childbirth!? Besides, nothing says thank you mom more than a cake baked with a little TLC (and Baileys).
For the cake:
6 eggs, room temperature and separated
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ granulated sugar
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp water
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8 inch cake pan (preferably springform or with a removable bottom) with parchment paper. Butter and flour the sides.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip together the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form and transfer it to a small bowl. Without washing the mixing bowl, add in the egg yolks, sugar and water. Whisk on high speed until pale and thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Switching to low speed, gradually add in the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. Using your hand or a spatula, fold in the egg whites until just incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
For the soak:
½ cup strong coffee, room temperature
¼ cup baileys
For the filling:
½ cup whipping cream
2 cups (475 g) mascarpone cheese
¼ cup icing sugar
¼ cup of the soak
Whisk together whipping cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form. Mix in mascarpone cheese and ¼ cup of the soak until combined. Do not overmix.
If the cake has a dome, shave off the top so you will end up with a flat slab. Cut the cake into two even layers using a cake leveler. Brush half of the remaining soak onto the first layer, then spread on the mascarpone filling. Place the next layer on top and repeat. Smooth the edges with a spatula and remove any excess filling. Keep the sides bare for the “naked” cake look. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.
- With Mother’s Day on a Sunday, you can even bake the cake on Saturday and assemble it a couple hours before serving– just make sure to wrap the layers in cling film and store it in an airtight container.
- Two identical cake pans can be used instead of one, so you will not need to cut the one cake in half (baking time must be adjusted accordingly) – but shaving the tops may allow for better soaking