The term “coffee cake” in America usually refers to any type of cake that would be good served with a cup of coffee, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the cake contains any coffee. The coffee cake in this recipe however, whilst it is fantastic with a cuppa, is the old-fashioned English fair stall type of coffee cake which means exactly that – cake that has coffee in it. I have a strange relationship with sweets, I can easily resist ordering dessert when we eat out, yet one thing I am partial to is a lovely piece of cake of a morning or afternoon. Not that I do this every day, but if I did, this would be the kind of cake I would crave. Moist and delicious with a lovely crumb, a wonderful coffee aroma and a nice bit of texture from the walnuts. The layers of coffee and walnut sponge are sandwiched together with coffee buttercream and then a glacé coffee icing finishes the cake off. So you can see what I mean when I say this is a “real” coffee cake. If you are serving this to children who enjoy coffee flavour but don’t want the caffeine hit then just replace the coffee with decaffeinated.
Ingredients – makes 1 x two layer cake (if you want 3 layers increase the ingredients x 1.5)
Adapted from River Cottage Cakes
200g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
100g light soft brown sugar
100g caster sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
50ml coffee essence (or 1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water, or 3 tbsp very strong fresh coffee)
100g chopped walnuts
For the Butter Cream
60g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
125g icing sugar, sifted
10ml coffee essence (or 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp boiling water or 1 tbsp strong fresh coffee)
For the Icing
200g icing sugar
2 tsp coffee essence (or 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water, or 1 tbsp strong fresh coffee)
Whole walnuts and chopped walnuts for decorating
Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter 2 x 8″ cake tins (or 3 tins if you’re making a 3 layer cake) and line the bases with baking paper. Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, using either a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk, beat the butter to a cream. Add the brown and caster sugars and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon flour with each and beating thoroughly before adding the next. Stir in the coffee essence. Now carefully fold in the remaining flour, half at a time, with a large metal spoon. Fold in the chopped walnuts, and sufficient milk to give a soft dropping consistency.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, spreading it out evenly with the back of the spoon. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown and the cakes spring back into shape when gently pressed. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the buttercream. Beat the butter to a cream, add the icing sugar and the coffee essence and beat until light and creamy. To make icing for the topping, sift the icing sugar into the bowl, add the coffee essence and 1-2 tbsp boiling water, and mix until thick. Spread one of the cooled cakes with the buttercream. Sandwich together with the second cake and cover the top with the icing. Decorate with the whole and chopped walnuts.