Coffee and Walnut Cake

A ye olde staple of the English afternoon tea table, as a child this cake filled me with disgust (walnuts, blergh, coffee, blergh!) Yet as I grew older, so too did I grow to appreciate, and enjoy the delights of this traditional sandwich cake.

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Based on the failproof victoria sponge method of making cakes, it is a recipe I go back to again, and again. I didn’t have quite enough caster sugar in the cupboard, but made do and found that it worked perfectly well, so I would be quite happy to continue doing that in future.

If you like your coffee black and strong, then do not stint here. Use the strongest black coffee you can brew.

Surprisingly my cake here contains no coffee at all! The flavouring is from Camp coffee essence, a tall brown bottle hidden away in the supermarket sugar aisle, which is actually made from chicory, and harks back to wartimes of making-do with what you had. It’s really easy to use straight from the bottle, and gives quite a gently-rounded coffee flavour. I enjoy it in the cake, but the flavour isn’t strong enough in the icing, so next time I’ll be using a shot of coffee in the buttercream.

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Coffee and Walnut Cake

For the cake:

  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 120g spreadable butter (it is easy to use and the added vegetable oil keeps the cake moist)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Camp coffee essence
  • handful of toasted walnuts, chopped

For the icing:

  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp Camp coffee essence
  • handful of toasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line two 15cm cake tins.  Sift the flour and baking powder together. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then whisk in the eggs, one by one. Whisk in the coffee essence, and fold in the flour and baking powder.  Mix in the walnuts, then add a spoonful of milk if it is too stiff, and divide between the two cake tins. Bake for around 18 minutes until risen and springy.

Let the cakes cool, and then make the icing. Beat the butter together with icing sugar, and loosen with milk and add 1 tbsp coffee essence to flavour. Beat well until fluffy and aerated. Spread 1/3 of the buttercream between the two layers, and the remaining 2/3 on top. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts to finish.

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2 thoughts on “Coffee and Walnut Cake

  1. simple yet elegant.. i love coffee cake, but hate walnut in my mouth. can i replace it with any thing else or completely omit it ???

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    1. Traditionally, this cake would be paired with walnuts, but I have seen versions using hazelnuts, pecans and macadamia nuts, all very successfully. Just substitute an equal amount of one of those nuts, and it should work beautifully! Omitting nuts would probably work as well, but you wouldn’t quite get the same textures. Hope it works well!

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