There are a dozen ways you can tweak a coffee and walnut cake to get different results from a light spongy cake to a moist and dense one that fills you up in a single wedge.
You can also play around with different icings depending on whether you want a fancy flourish to your cake or a more homely complement to the bitter-sweet-crunchy cake combo.
My favourite recipe – and the one that attracts the most praise from family and friends – is a spongy coffee and walnut cake with butter cream frosting.
It is easy to make with ingredients that are easy to get at your local store.
A coffee and walnut cake goes great for teatime, as an after dinner snack or on its own as a sinful midnight snack.
What You’ll Need For My Coffee And Walnut Cake Recipe
Here’s what you need for the batter.
- Instant or ground coffee, 2 tablespoons. There’s debate on whether ground coffee is more flavourful than instant coffee. If you have the time, feel free to experiment with both. You’ll likely taste little to no difference. Use whichever you have.
- Roughly chopped walnuts, 100g. Leave a few halves to top the cake.
- All-purpose flour, 1 cup or 225g
- Room temperature butter, 225g
- Brown sugar, 225g
- 4 eggs
- Baking powder, 3 table spoons
- Salt, ¼ teaspoon
If you feel the batter is a bit too thick and heavy for your liking, go ahead and add a dash of milk to lighten it.
Here’s what you need for the icing.
- Instant coffee, 2 table spoons. Don’t use ground coffee here. The finer texture of instant coffee produces smoother icing.
- Room temperature butter, 165g.
- Icing sugar, 425g.
- Salt, ¼ teaspoon.
- Double cream, 4 tablespoons.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C or gas mark 4.
- Toast the chopped walnuts on a pan. This will extract more of their flavour, giving your cake a nuttier taste. This part is optional but it makes a big difference. To toast, place the walnuts on a hot pan (with no oil) and keep stirring them with a wooden or silicone spatula. Wait for a strong nutty smell before you remove them from the pan.
- Mix two tablespoons of instant or ground coffee with one tablespoon hot water. Leave it to cool.
- The next part is the most effort-demanding, if you don’t have a mixer. You’ll need to cream the butter and sugar until you get a light and fluffy mixture. This is the secret to a light spongy cake. Mix the butter and brown sugar and mix vigorously (by hand or with an electric mixer) until it adopts a lighter colour and looks fluffy (the fluffiness comes from the air in the mixture).
- Add the eggs, one by one. Keep mixing after you add each egg.
- Instead of adding the solid ingredients one by one to the liquid mixture, mix them in a separate bowl. They include salt, baking powder and flour.
- Fold the powdery mixture into the fluffy liquid. Emphasis on fold. Do not stir or beat the batter as that will drive out air. Instead, fold gently with a silicone spatula until the solid ingredients are wetted.
- Add coffee and walnuts and keep folding until they are mixed into the batter.
- Pour the batter into two greased baking tins (you can also line them with parchment) and bake for 25 minutes.
- Cool the cakes on a wire rack (give them about 10 minutes in the tins before transferring them to a cooling rack).
The icing is a simple butter cream. Beat the butter to soften it then add icing sugar, salt, cream and cooled strong coffee (mix 1 tablespoon hot water with 2 tablespoons instant coffee).
Spread half the icing on one cake (a flexible silicone spatula is perfect for this job) then place the second cake on top.
Spread the remaining icing on top of the second cake then top it with a few halved walnuts.