For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C and butter the 2 baking tins. Cut baking paper to the size of the bottom and stick it to the bottom of the baking tin. Also cut out the strips that you will place on the inside of the edges and stick in place.
- Beat the margarine until it becomes whiter (+/- 5 min). Add the eggs and mix some more.
- Feed in the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix some more.
- In a separate mixing bowl, put the dry ingredients: self-raising baking flour, Zùsto, almond flour and the salt. Next, add this scoop by scoop to the rest of the mixture while continuing to stir.
- Put the apple cider vinegar along with the baking powder in a small bowl and let it fizz. Add it to the batter and mix again briefly.
- Divide the batter into 3 parts. Weigh 280 g, and add to this one tablespoon of cocoa powder (this becomes the chocolate cake). Mix briefly. Weigh 575 g of batter again, and add to this the espresso powder (this will be the espresso cake). Finally, with the remaining batter, do nothing (this will be the vanilla cake).
- Pour the batter into the baking tins. I had 2 tins so I had to bake in 2 batches. Bake for 20 min (for the small cakes) and 30 min for the espresso cake. Check with a cake stick or skewer to see if the cakes are ready. Firstly, allow to cool for 15 min in the tin before removing them from the tin (and continuing to cool on a wire rack).
For the coffee syrup (optional)
- Put the Zùsto, water and coffee powder in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and wait for the Zùsto to dissolve completely. Let it boil for a while, but not too long because you will get a caramel. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
For the mascarpone frosting
- Place the mascarpone in a mixing bowl and gently mix in the Zùsto (add the Zùsto spoonful by spoonful as you continue to mix). Add the vanilla extract.
- Take 2 portions of 130 g frosting in a separate bowl.
- Melt the chocolate (which you first chop into pieces) on a low wattage in the microwave. Leave to come to room temperature and add it to 1 of the 2 portions of 130 g (this is the chocolate frosting). To the other 130 g you add the espresso powder (this is the espresso frosting). Leave the rest of the frosting as is (this is the vanilla frosting)
Putting together the cake
- Make sure your cakes are “flat” at the top. If you have a “bulge,” carefully cut it off with a large kitchen knife. Cut the espresso cake lengthwise so you get 2 discs
- Make sure you start stacking the cakes on a cake board or something you want to serve cake on. This is important, because it will be difficult to move the cake around afterwards. First spread a dollop of frosting on the cake board and then place the chocolate cake on top. Poke holes in it and brush some coffee syrup over it (a few tablespoons is enough). Now spread a generous layer of frosting between each cake. After the chocolate cake, stack 1 of the 2 espresso cakes, then again the coffee syrup followed by the frosting. Finish with the vanilla cake.
Tip: use a cake bottom at the end (that way the top of your cake is flat).
- ‘Plaster’ the edges of the cake with the vanilla frosting. To do this, use a palette knife and smooth it on so you get a ‘naked’ cake. It’s called a crumb free surface. Now place the cake in the refrigerator for 15 mins. Afterwards, you can frost the cake all around (and on top) with the remaining frosting (I use a piping bag for this). Start at the bottom with the chocolate frosting. Spread the chocolate frosting very thickly on 1/3rd of the bottom (I did this using a piping bag). Then very roughly spread the espresso frosting on the next 1/3rd of the cake. Use the vanilla frosting for the top 1/3rd and the top. Afterwards, smooth the 3 colours evenly using a palette knife or smoothing tool
- Using the remaining frosting, pipe tufts on top of the cake. If necessary, finish with cocoa powder that you sift over the cake.