Weekend bake: coffee and walnut cake

I haven’t made a big cake for a while so thought I’d do some baking to celebrate Sam’s first full day at school.

When I was growing up there’d always be some kind of cake on the go, and I’m really keen to carry this tradition on for my boys. Lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge, victoria sponge…  decisions decisions…

I decided it had to be coffee and walnut cake – it’s one of my absolute faves. The coffee takes away the supersweetness and makes it seem more sophisticated somehow. The nuts give it a bit more interest and crunch.

I hunted around for a recipe and was delighted to find my favourite cook Nigel Slater had done his own version for the Guardian.

There are a couple of debates you can enter into with this cake. Should you use margarine or butter for the sponge? I know many people swear by Stork marg for light and fluffy results. I’m such a sucker for the flavour you get from butter that I can’t have my arm twisted on that front.

The second discussion is whether to use instant coffee granules or make up some espresso. I’d have been tempted to use espresso as I’m a big coffee drinker and this is what I make at home. However Nige recommends using instant coffee for the sponge and frosting so I took his advice.

The cake turned out a treat! It’s a bit frosting-tastic, so you could easily cut down the quantity if you can’t handle lots of buttercream on your cake. I love the fact that both the sponge and the frosting have walnuts stirred in.

Coffee and Walnut Cake (Nigel Slater)

175g butter
175g unrefined golden caster sugar
65g walnut pieces
3 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp instant coffee granules

For the filling:

200g butter
400g icing sugar
2 tsps instant coffee granules
60g walnut pieces

You will also need 2 x 21cm loose-bottomed sponge tins.

Beat the butter and sugar till it is light, pale and fluffy. Set the oven at 180°C/gas mark 4. Meanwhile, line the base of two 21cm sponge tins with greaseproof paper and chop the walnuts. Crack the eggs into a bowl, break them up with a fork and add them a little at a time to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.

Mix the flour and baking powder together and mix into the butter and sugar gently, with the mixer on a slow speed or by hand, with a large metal spoon. Dissolve the coffee granules in 1 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the cake. Chop the walnuts and fold gently into the cake.

Divide the cake mixture between the two cake tins, smooth lightly, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

To make the frosting, beat the butter till soft and pale with an electric beater, then add the sugar and beat till smooth and creamy. Stir 1 tbsp boiling water into the coffee granules then mix it into the buttercream. Fold in the walnut pieces.

As soon as it is cool, turn one half of the cake upside down on a plate or board, spread it with a good third of the buttercream, then place the second half on top. Spread the remaining buttercream on top and round the sides.

As you can see Sam was totally delighted with the appearance of a massive cake when he got in from school.  After eating a slice he had a total sugar rush… or maybe it was the caffeine… hmmmmm!


About Katie Bryson

Katie Bryson is a freelance food writer and blogger. She left a career in online news at the BBC to immerse herself in the culinary world, taking in courses at Leiths School of Food and Wine and an internship at Waitrose along the way. Her family food blog www.feedingboys.co.uk is bursting with recipes and tips for feeding hungry families that’ll help inspire all those frazzled parents out there wondering what on earth to cook for tea!
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10 Responses to Weekend bake: coffee and walnut cake

  1. Paul O says:

    Wow, looks amazing! Plus, Sam’s getting big now! 🙂 hope you’re well. Paul xx

  2. He looks cock a hoop about that cake! See you this evening my lovely!

  3. Kate says:

    I LOVE coffee cake. My mum is so not a cook (I get my cooking genes from my dad) but coffee cake is the one thing she would bake. Her frosting looked a little darker but she only ever made it using instant coffee.

    This is not good for my diet. 😉

  4. Carrie says:

    Hi Katie – so nice to meet you tonight. It was my first event for 1000heads, and I loved it.

    Coffee and walnut is also my favourite. Sadly my husband doesn’t like it, so I have to scoff the lot with the kids. I’m also totally with you on the butter front, but can I admit to using stork for the kid’s party cakes? Easier to mix up (because I never take the butter out of the fridge in time) and way less expensive (yes – complete cheapskate when it comes to cake no adults will eat!).

    Your Sam looks like a charmer – reminds me of my Sam’s first day at school (before he lost the charm!)

    Carrie x

  5. Mmm, coffee and walnut cake – I don’t think I’ve ever made one, but I do like them. What a nice mummy you are to bake for Sam’s first day at school. I hope he enjoyed it.

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