When it comes to famous desserts and cakes, Tiramisu is on top of many people’s favorite list of sweet treats.
If you are Italian, you probably know what Tiramisu means. It means cheer me up. Isn’t that perfect for this cake and dessert?
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There is no doubt that this wonderful cake with its soft buttery sponge fingers soaked in coffee can cheer you up. The addition of liquor, cocoa powder and rich mascarpone cheese makes Tiramisu hard to resist.
What is the history of this delicious Italian treat? The history of Tiramisu is not as easy to follow as the recipe. Italian patisserie folklore is rich in history when it comes to cakes and desserts.
Let’s dive further into the history of this delicious cake which is a decadent sweet treat for any occasion.
The History of Tiramisu
When we start tracing the history of Tiramisu, we first find ourselves in Treviso.
Treviso is a bustling city in a northern region of Italy called Veneto. The year is circa 1950 and we are sitting on the terrazza of a restaurant called Le Beccherie.
The owner of Le Beccherie is Signor Roberty Linguanotto – a local well-known pastry chef. According to Italian tradition, he was the creator of the modern-day Tiramisu.
It is said that Signor Roberto got his inspiration from a local sweet treat called Zuppa de Duca – the Duke’s soup. This consisted of layers of sponge cake soaked in a liquor of the duke’s choice, layers of chocolate and custard.
Linguanotto created his own version using sponge fingers instead of sponge cake as he did not have any in his restaurant’s pantry. He added marsala wine and coffee. The custard was replaced with mascarpone cheese. It is said these were the only ingredients he had in his kitchen that evening.
Hurriedly he named his new creation Tiramusi. At this point in the story, we have to mention this is a disputed claim.
In 2016, a handwritten recipe was found in a cookbook belonging to another chef called Norma Pielli.
Norma Pielli owned a hotel in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Her creation was very similar to the previous one apart from one ingredient. Instead of mascarpone, dairy cream was used to layer the cake.
The recipe was dated 1959. Out of the two chefs, it is hard to say who created the first Tiramisu. Signora Pielli called her first cake mascarpone slice, but it is believed a customer suggested the name Tiramisu after eating the cake.
Who is right? It is hard to say, especially as there is a third theory. Yes, the Italians do love their food culture and defending regional cooking is a popular pastime in Italy.
The Third Tiramisu Theory
If you have been to Italy, you will know that food is a major conversation topic.
According to one Italian food historian, Tiramisu originated in a brothel in an Italian town called Treviso.
This is a popular story but has very little factual evidence. Apparently, our madam wanted to create a cake or dessert which was both nourishing and stimulating. According to legend, Tiramisu in the local dialect means “lift me up.
Although this is an interesting story, most Italians don’t believe it is true. They rather like the idea of their favourite dessert and cake having been created by a chef who apparently had run out of ingredients but still wanted to offer his diners dessert.
When you stop and think about it, the story is not so different from the history of Caesar salad. The best recipes are often born out of necessity rather than a long creative process.
Can You Still Enjoy Tiramisu in Italy?
Tiramisu in Italy is as popular as ever and Italians love to indulge in this delicious treat. These days, it comes to you in many different forms.
In Venice, it is popular as a cheesecake. On the island of Murano, you can enjoy Tiramisu in the form of a Swiss roll with a glass of Asti Spumante. A great way to relax after having shopped for Murano glass all morning.
Tiramisu has travelled the world and can be found in Europe and North America. Any self-respecting patisserie owner would consider Tiramisu a must.
A Versatile Cake
If you are just getting into baking, Tiramisu is one of those classics you simply have to try.
Just like Swedish Princess cake, it takes a little bit of effort to master the art of making Tiramisu.
The good news is that your Tiramisu cake does not have to be large. If you like, you can start by making smaller cupcake-style Tiramisu cakes. They are for taking with you to work and treating your colleagues.
Do you have to use marsala wine? If you don’t like the taste of marsala wine or find it hard to get, there are many other great choices.
For instance, you can try Tia Maria liquor or Bailey’s. If you are looking for a healthier version of Tiramisu, you can try replacing the mascarpone with thick Greek yoghurt.
You can even make your own sponge fingers using oat flour if you are gluten intolerant.
However, it has to be said, that it is nice to say never mind the calories and enjoy a nice treat.
The Final Slice
Has the popularity of Tiramisu reached its height yet? Probably not. This versatile cake was discovered by the international community in the 1980s. When visiting Melbourne, ensure you visit Brunetti Oro for a genuine Italian Tiramisu experience.
Since then, its popularity has only increased. Tiramisu is one of the most versatile and tastiest cakes you can enjoy. Many Italian families have their own special recipe.