Gluten-Free Tiramisu Layer Cake

Gluten-Free Tiramisu Layer Cake

My father-in-law is a baker and because of him, I can claim that I make the best tiramisu cake. When I started dating my husband way back when we were little bitches, I didn't see his father as a baker. I saw him as a businessman with a company that produces baked goods. About a year after dating my husband, I decided to go into a baking and pastry program at the nearest culinary school. My father-in-law was intrigued by this, but it didn't occur to me why. When I was interested in starting up a bakery-truck before the time they hit the streets like wildfire, my father-in-law praised my idea and wanted to get involved. When I was over at his house and eye-ing his work station and baking books, he would converse and ask me how I would improve certain recipes. Pretty soon, I realized that this man is, in fact, a baker. But not just any baker. A picky baker.

Anytime I baked anything and brought it over to his work or his home for special occasions.  He would have one serving, maybe half, and nod his head in approval before saying he was finished. This to me tells me how picky he is. Now of course, I should probably consider that maybe he just doesn't like my baked goods, but according to my husband, that's the way my father-in-law is. He has high expectations for anything baked. But then this changed when I brought over a home-made tiramisu (even the lady fingers were made from scratch) a few years ago. It was during the holidays and we all had a slice after a chicken posole dinner. After I finished my slice, I stood up to put my plate in the sink then wrapped the remaining of the cake to put in the fridge. When I returned to the dining table, my father-in-law stood up, walked towards the kitchen with his plate, then turned around and said "where is the cake??" as he did some sort of panic jumping. My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief.

So I broke the wall of pickiness. MY tiramisu cake is his favorite dessert thus far. He is always asking me, when you're going to be bring another cake? When will you make me a tiramisu cake? when? when? when? However, since my switch to avoid gluten, I only made tiramisu once and didn't have any. It was getting to the point where I was truly missing the taste of the sabayon whipped with mascarpone and the cocoa powder melting on my tongue. Coffee liquor reminding me of how adult I am, and the lady fingers giving me a pat on the back because I'm so badass for making them in the first place.

Then my best friend asked me to bring dessert to her Christmas party this year. It had to be tiramisu, it absolutely had to be. But I wanted some. I really fucking wanted some cake. I didn't care how much sugar was in it. I was going to have to make it even if it meant creating a gluten free cake base. And I did it! Well, I had to do it thrice because the first try, the lady fingers burnt to crisp (need to work on this), and then I decided to go layer-style, and that's when I realized what exactly sabayon is used for (NOT LAYERS THAT HOLD). FInally after a whole day of baking, I just wanted to lay down and sleep forever, but no. My husband, the man who supported all my cooking and baking endeavors, tells me to get my ass up and we would go to Whole Foods on this night before Christmas eve to buy more ingredients so I can successfully complete this cake. And I did. I created an amazing gluten free tiramisu layer cake. Would my father-in-law approve? We'll have to wait and see.

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For the cake:

  • 185g/ ~1 cup + 1 tablespoon white rice flour
  • 62g/ ~1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon potato starch
  • 34g/ ~1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 54g/ ~1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature + a little bit for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites + 1 whole egg at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup espresso (or concentrated coffee*)
  • 1/4 cup coffee liquor
  • 16 oz mascarpone cheese (usually 2 packages) at room temperature
  • 10 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • chocolate shavings (optional)

You'll also need:


  1. preheat oven to 350°F
  2. in a small bowl, combine the espresso and coffee liquor. Set aside and make sure it is cool before using.
  3. grease 3 6-inch cake rounds and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper
  4. in a bowl, sift the dry ingredients (from white rice flour to salt), set aside
  5. using a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until the batter becomes fluffy, scraping the sides once -- about 5 minutes
  6. mix the egg whites, egg and buttermilk in a measuring cup or small bowl
  7. reduce the mixer's speed to low, and add the dry ingredients in four parts, alternating with the wet ingredients.
  8. once combined, scrape down the sides and mix on medium speed for one more minute
  9. remove bowl from mixer and fold ingredients by hand to get any missed areas at the bottom of the bowl
  10. divide the batter evenly between the pans and place onto center of oven
  11. bake for 20 minutes. rotate pans and bake for another 10 minutes. You can check if they are done by using a toothpick. If it comes out clean then they are ready to be removed from the oven.
  12. allow cakes to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  13. while the cake cools, make the filling using the stand mixer.
  14. using a paddle, cream butter and mascarpone. Once combined add the powdered sugar.
  15. to assemble: slice off the top of each cake to level and using a spoon or silicone brush, drizzle some of the espresso mixture throughout the bottom two layers*
  16. Fill a piping bag with the mascarpone icing and use it as a tool to fill and ice the cake. dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder and chocolate shavings.
  17. it is recommended to serve the cake the same day and not to refrigerate it as the cake becomes dense but if refrigeration is needed, remove cake at least 1 hour prior to cutting and consuming.


  • you can concentrate coffee by simmering freshly brewed coffee for 30 minutes or so until it reduces in half.
  • I did not recommend drizzling espresso the top layer. due to the moisture, it may be difficult to ice the cake.

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