Love and Olive Oil

Vanilla Cake with Tiramisu Buttercream and Ganache Filling

Vanilla Cake with Tiramisu Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache Filling

Already getting a good start tackling my baking resolutions (and it’s not even the new year)… I’ve moved from macarons to fondant. I stumbled upon a fondant cake decorating class in our area, and immediately jumped at the opportunity to get my hands dirty. My first attempt (solo – stupid!) failed so miserably, I realized that just watching people decorating cakes on TV was not a suitable learning tool.

The supply list for this class included a cake. Which makes sense, I guess, it’d be pretty ridiculous if they provided cake for everyone. So Friday night before the class I got to work baking a cake.

I’m sure if this was Taylor taking the class (which, that alone is very unlikely anyway), he would have just thrown together a box mix cake. It’s just practicing after all, why spend the time baking a real cake from scratch. But you know me, a box mix just will not do. I won’t even settle for a homemade cake and quick plain buttercream. Nope. I spent as much time thinking about the inside of the cake as I did decorating the outside.

The result was a delicious yellow cake, filled with a coffee-flavored swiss meringue buttercream and a layer of chocolate ganache. Tasty! The end result reminded me a lot of Tiramisu – the creamy meringue buttercream spiked with coffee, the rich vanilla buttermilk cake… with a chocolaty twist.

Fondant Ribbon Bow

The actual decorating was quite a success as well. Actually seeing a cake covered in fondant step by step makes a huge difference. And I could barely believe how easy the bow was. Aside from a few small blips and tears, I think it looks pretty darned nice!

What I need to find are some miniature cake pans. Like, figure out what exactly half of an 8 inch 3-layer-cake recipe would yield (5″? 6″? Math geniuses, help me out!) With a smaller cake I could bake them more often and wouldn’t feel so guilty about just the two of us eating the entire thing. Practice my decorating skills without needing a special occasion as an excuse!

Vanilla Cake with Tiramisu Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache Filling

Though, as pretty as the outside looks, I do have to say that the inside just might be the prettiest part. :)

Vanilla Cake with Tiramisu Buttercream and Bittersweet Ganache Filling

Makes one three-layer 9-inch round cake, or a three-layer 8-inch round cake and 6 cupcakes.
Cake recipe adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. Buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart.


3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Buttercream: (halve this recipe if you will be covering the cake with fondant)
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon instant coffee

1/3 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition. There will be 9 cups of batter; our 3 cups batter into each pan.

Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Turn the layers out onto wire racks by placing a rack on top of a pan, inverting it, and lifting off the pan. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely. When the layers have cooled, place a cardboard cake board on top of a layer, invert again, and lift off the rack. To make the layers easier to handle, wrap them on their boards completely in plastic, so they don’t dry out, and refrigerate them.

To make buttercream, combine the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk on high speed until mixture is completely cooled and stiff peaks form, about 6 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, on low speed, mixing well after each addition. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Stir instant coffee into warm water until dissolved. Add, 1 teaspoon at a time, to buttercream, mixing well after each addition, until you’re satisfied with the strength of the coffee flavor (I added about 1 tablespoon).

To make ganche, place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. In a heavy saucepan set over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the stove and pour over chopped chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes and then stir until fully combined. Let cool until just firm enough to spread onto cake layers.

After leveling cake layers as necessary, place one cake layer on a cake board, flat side up. Brush with sugar syrup (if desired, it will help keep the cake moist). Spread half of the ganache evenly over the top, followed by approximately 3/4 cup of the buttercream. Repeat with the second cake layer, by first brushing on some sugar syrup, followed by more ganache and buttercream. Top the cake with the third layer. Lightly crumb coat the the cake with more buttercream. At this point you can either cover the cake with fondant, or frost it with a thick layer of buttercream.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. pleade hurry because I have to make it today!

  2. Hi! I absolutely love your recipe!! I’m planning to make it for my birthday instead of a store bought one. I was wondering, what kind of sugar for the buttercream and for the cake? 

  3. I was excIted to fInd tHIs recIpe.
    However, am severely dIsappoInted In It.  THe cake Is alrIGHt…dense but ok.
    THe frostInG Is Heavy, not sweet enouGH and way too Heavy wItH all of tHat butter.  Even my Husband wHo Is tHe type to not waste food Is not fInIsHIng HIs pIece! :-(
    Excuse my funky typInG. My pHones keyboard Is actInG up.

  4. Thank you so much. :) I was freakin out cause my daughter wants this for her Birthday. Thanks again.

  5. What kind of sugar for the buttercream?

  6. Hi I’m wanting to make this cake as my wedding cake. How early can I make the cake and buttercream?

    • The cake layers could be made ahead of time and frozen. Then maybe make the buttercream and assemble the day before? I’ve never made buttercream ahead of time, not sure how well it stores on its own.

  7. I saw this on pinterest and decided to make it for Mothers’ Day yesterday — WOW! I’m about 50/50 with pinterest recipies, but this was incredible! Thanks for sharing it.

    I used 3 shots of espresso instead of the instant coffee and it worked great. The only problem? It’s so big I couldn’t put the lid on my cake holder. :-)

  8. I just made this recipe and the cake turned out great but the frosting was not quite as fluffy as I prefer, in fact it was kinda runny. I’ve used other buttercream and vanilla cake recipes that were much less complicated & time-consuming and they turned out just as good, if not better. Either way, your cake looks beautiful and the flavor combinations are exquisite! Thank you for the wonderful idea!

    • I’ve had my fair share of trouble with swiss meringue buttercream too. It’s very finicky especially with regards to butter temperature. I won’t even attempt it during the summer months! While American buttercream (the powdered sugar kind) is super easy and practically no-fail, it is oftentimes too sweet. That’s why I like the swiss version, when it works, of course. :)

    • Oh ok! Thanks for the FYI! :)

  9. Instant coffee grounds or brewed coffee?

    • Instant coffee. Instant espresso would work as well. You don’t want to add any actual liquid to the frosting.

  10. This cake literally looks perfect! Inside and out, there’s not a flaw to be found. I think that’s the beauty of fondant, and I’m sure it tastes wonderful as well! (:

  11. I will be making this cake for my brothers birthday today, and I’ll be using three 8 inch pans. I see that it says it makes three 8 inch and six cupcakes, and 9 cups of batter..does anyone know how many cups I should put in each cake pan and how many should be left over for the cupcakes? I just don’t want my cakes to be over filled. Thanks!

  12. I have always baked but never decorated, so I thought I might give it a shot tomorrow for valentines day. How many oz/lbs of fondant did it take to cover this cake? Also, do you think it would be good with marshmallow fondant?

    Thanks :))

  13. I made this wonderful and tasty cake in two 8×3 pans. I don’t quite understand the chemistry of of my cakes was perfect, the other was a bit flatter. They both had the same amount of batter. I did open the door of the oven while they were baking…would you have any ideas. I can’t wait to make the icing. I am making this cake for a party and this is my trial run.
    Thanks for your help!

    • Could be any number of things, different position in the oven, different brand of cake pan, half of the batter got slightly more mixed than the other… who knows. Luckily it’s easy enough to trim off the excess and make the layers fairly equal in size, or at least level off their tops.

  14. The cake pans were 2 inch tall.

  15. Hello, thank you for the recipe, i’d try it last Saturday and everybody in my family love it. The directions to make it are clear and simple to follow.
    I don’t know why but it only give me enough to fill 2- 9″ cake pan?, any idea? Thanks again

    • How full did you fill the pans? I rarely ever fill my cake pans more than half full. What I’d do is simply divide the batter evenly among 3 pans.

      Some people prefer to bake fewer thicker layers and then “torte” them (or slice them in half), but I find it just easier to bake thinner layers to begin with.

  16. Looks delicious! About how many cupcakes do you think this would make?

  17. This looks so great! I can’t wait to make mini versions of these soon! :)

  18. This cake is absolutely beautiful! I’m so excited to make it this weekend :)
    But I have some questions: I will be covering this cake with fondant the night before the event and I read that you really shouldn’t put a fondant-covered cake in the fridge unless the filling needs to be refrigerated. So would the ganache and buttercream be able to stay out on my counter overnight? My house isn’t really humid as we have the air conditioner on. Thanks a lot! :)

    • You know, it’s hard to say. Definitely don’t put it in an airtight container, just lightly cover it if you have to. I’ve left out ganache/buttercream before and haven’t had an issue, but if you feel more comfortable refrigerating it I think you’d be ok for one night. If you have colored decorations on white maybe leave those off, I’d hate for the colors to bleed on you! Do you have time before the event to do a test? A mini cake perhaps to make sure the fridge isn’t going to completely ruin it? I am no professional when it comes to cakes, but this is probably what I’d do.

    • I bake cakes as a profession and have always heard that you can’t put fondant cakes in the fridge but you can put them in the freezer. WELL, I’m here to tell you that the exact opposite is true! I always put mine in the fridge the night before, but one time when I put a cake in the freezer the fondant got all sticky and shiny. Shouldn’t be a problem with the fridge if it’s less than 24hrs! Good luck!

  19. Hi, I’m planning on making this beautiful cake for a shower. Can I make the buttercream ahead of time (3 days advance) and leave it in the fridge before frosting it? Also, once frosting and covering with fondant, can i leave it out overnight before serving it? Sorry, I’m a newbie so I have all sorts of concerns!


  20. What a stunning cake!! I can tell you for sure that I don’t have the patience to create anything so detailed, but I’m in awe of those who do.
    I also wanted to let you know that your post has been posted with your photos, content and recipe on a site called “cake recipes with pictures dot come”. They also have a pin it button driving traffic to their site with your photo. They took (stole) my content and it’s take me weeks to get it removed from their site. I finally lodged a complaint through Google adsense and they were able to get it removed.

  21. This cake looks decadent! :) I’m so trying it out sometime!
    Thank you for sharing your recipe :D

  22. I’m trying this tonight. Wish me luck. Ack.

  23. I made this cake with the buttercream on Holy Thursday hoping that it would last until Easter Sunday to give to my boyfriend’s family. His grandparents are off the boat Italian and his grandmother is an amazing cook so I was a bit hesitant but i figured that if any recipe would make me look like a good baker, this would be it. Fortunately, yes! The buttercream and perfect lasted until Sunday and were wonderful. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!

    Also, Jenise: I did have some problems with the buttercream while making it, but no problem with it lasting a few days. For whatever reason, my buttercream kept separating with the butter congealing and the liquid separating (apparently that could be due to humidity or letting the butter get too soft?). In any case, I ended up working with it til it was a creamy consistency and put the cake in the fridge until Sunday afternoon. It was a bit more solid because the buttercream hardened, but after sitting out for 20 minutes was perfect.

  24. Can anyone who has made this cake tell me how long the buttercream made from egg whites lasts? I’ve only ever made buttercream using butter and icing sugar (no eggs), and I have a cake to make for Friday, but I don’t want to make it too soon in case the egg buttercream goes off. Thanks!

  25. Another amazing cake…made it last night as a test run, gonna use this one on a dessert buffet as well. Didn’t cover it with fondant, just used the buttercream, but it was still a nice looking cake. Amazing flavors..I used a starbucks coffee, and as a non-coffee drinker I have to say it was fantastic!!

  26. Just wanted to say “Thanks” for this recipe! I/we absolutely love the combination of flavors, and we’ve made this cake three times in the past 1.5 months to give to our (3 pairs of) newly engaged friends as an engagement cake!

  27. I made this cake yesterday, and it is amazing! The cake by itself was delicious, but the addition of the coffee buttercream, made it just perfect. I did not use fondant on mine, and it still came out looking quite lovely, and the inside was so pretty.
    I am at a relatively high altitude so I put 1 1/4 tsp less baking powder and upped the temp by 25. The cakes came out with lovely domes for me to cut off instead of the usual pit in the middle to fill. I also used semi-sweet chocolate instead as I am not a dark chocolate person. I didn’t think it made it too sweet at all.
    Thank you for this recipe. Everyone loved it!

  28. This is so gorgeous! I’d say it’s freaking awesome for your second attempt :)

  29. I would so love a cake like this for my birthday (or any occasion!). Great job!

  30. BEAUTIFUL photos!! Sounds like the class was successful…and I LOVE the bright teal bow!!

  31. your cake looks beautiful! i have the same problem in that i always want to bake but for me to have an ENTIRE cake sitting around the house would be bad news for hips. luckily, a halved 9-inch 2 layer recipe makes a 6-inch 2 layer- much more manageable and the perfect size for two people. i love this cake pan chart:

  32. wow, the cake looks amazing, i have to try this cake.

  33. That is a truly beautiful cake!!!! Merry Christmas

  34. This is AMAZING. I’m so impressed!

  35. WOW! Looks stunning and sounds delicious!

  36. Lindsay – This is gorgeous! I read all of your blogs and my mouth is usually watering by the time I am done. I rarely have the time to comment — but could not let this beautiful cake get by without a compliment. I would PAY BIG for a slice of this right now!! Christmas Eve morning, at work and raining — but I KNOW this cake would cheer me up! :) I love Tiramisu and this just looks scrumptios! Almost too pretty to eat. Good job! Good luck on all your baking resolutions — we are local, so let us know if you need taste-testers! Merry Christmas to you and Taylor!

  37. Wow. I had to comment on the cake. It is very stunning. I love EVERYTHING about it.

  38. the inside doeslook fantastic. outside too!`

  39. Very cute! Generally speaking, its often harder to cover a really small cake, although I still think my favorite is a 6″ cake. I just have the wilton pans, I’ve finally given in and learned to torte, so I generally bake 2 layers and split them into 4 for my cakes.

  40. LOVE it!!! Especially love the bow — so cute and classy!

    Bravo on the creative cake as well. Sounds hopelessly delicious. :)

    Merry Christmas to you both!

  41. That is a beautiful cake and it sounds delicious as well!

  42. lovely tall cake…. i was captivated to the white and blue…sandwiched tiramisu buttercream, awesome combination indeed… sensational… yumz

  43. Absolutely beautiful! I’ve only attempted fondant once, and it wasn’t a great success. My bow looked NOTHING like yours. Now you’ve got me wanting to play around again. But you’re right. Just watching it on TV means nothing, so maybe I should sign up for a class too!

  44. Gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful!

  45. What a gorgeous cake! Simple and elegant and I do like layered ones as well. This is so right for Christmas too.

  46. cute! half a 8-inch recipe will get you a tall five inch cake, or a flatter 6 inch cake… if you could get a 5.5 inch that would be perfect.

  47. I’m not a math genius, but I’ll still help you out! Three four- or five-inch cake pans would work pretty well. Better yet, use two six-inch cake pans. :-)

  48. This is a lovely cake, both inside and out! I used fondant many years ago for a cake and just remember it being a pain. I keep planning to do the Wilton decorating classes, so maybe one will cover fondant

    • Avoid the Wilton brand fondant if you use store bought rather than homemade. SatinIce is pretty good, as is the Duff Goldman brand. I would use rolled buttercream, instead. It handles and works like fondant, but tastes far superior. Google it for recipes.

    • I make my own fondant. Store bought is bitter.

      What is wonderful about homemade, is that if it’s too dry, add water. If it’s too runny, add powdered sugar. I knead it on a surface with a little Crisco so it becomes smooth and beautiful once all ingredients are well incorporated. Everyone loves my fondant. Try it and have fun with it!

  49. Looks amazing! I’ve only worked with fondant twice, but loved it. It’s so fun (of course, my cakes were not nearly so elegant – they were for children.)

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