My boyfriend’s favourite: coffee & walnut cake

coffee and walnut cakeWhen we were in England so I couldn’t pass on any opportunity for an afternoon tea. I will always go for the carrot cake, such a favourite of mine, but my boyfriend will never miss a good coffee and walnut cake. On his birthday we were in Amsterdam, so I couldn’t bake anything, but I made up for it now with this delicious surprise! No need to tell you it didn’t last very long! I got the recipe from one of my new purchases: Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food.

Here’s how you make it: preheat the oven to 160 C. Line the bottom of 2 20 cm round tins with baking parchment. Boil some water in the kettle (to dissolve some instant coffee later on).

First, make the sponge: put 2 tbsp instant coffee in a mug and add 2 tbsp hot water to dissolve it (you can use 1 tbsp coffee for a lighter taste or 3 for a good kick, adjust the water accordingly). Finely chop 50 g walnuts and set aside. Put 150 g self-raising flour in a large bowl with 50 g wholemeal flour (if you don’t have wholemeal, just add another 50 g self-raising flour instead), 200 g soft light brown sugar and 1 tsp baking powder and mix a bit to combine. Add 175 g softened butter, 4 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract the prepared coffee and chopped walnuts and beat it hard until smooth and well combined. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and put them in the oven for 25 min until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

About 5 min before the cake is ready, mix 1 tsp instant coffee powder with 1 tbsp sugar and 2 tablespoons hot water and stir to dissolve. Remove the cakes from the oven and brush liberally with the coffee mixture. Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning them onto a wire rack to cool completely (this should take about 10 min).

Next, make the buttercream: mix 400 g icing sugar in a large bowl with 200 g very soft butter and beat until light and fluffy. Mix 2 tbsp instant coffee powder with 1 tbsp hot water until dissolved and add to the buttercream. Mix again. To assemble the cake, put one on a serving plate and slather the top liberally with half of the buttercream. Place the other sponge on top and slather with the remaining buttercream. You can cover the sides too if you prefer, I do! Arrange some more walnuts on top for decoration. Enjoy while listening to Rule Brittania (I do like this Night of the Proms version!).

Use up leftover walnuts in carrot cake or apricot & marzipan twist.

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Getting ready for easter: mocha cake

Chocolate and coffee cakeAs with all major holidays celebrated in the family, I’m in charge of dessert this Easter. And as my grandmother is a big fan of chocolate, this cake always goes down a treat. It’s not your classical Easter dessert, my mom is in charge if that as I’m not a fan of it and I only bake what I like myself. But you may like it, so I’ll make sure she takes a nice picture of it so I can post it for you to try it later. Right now, it’s back to chocolate with the addition of coffee and coffee butter icing, a recipe I found in Rachel Allen‘s Bake, so you can’t really go wrong there!

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a loaf tin with parchment paper. Put 175 g self-raising flour in a bowl with 50 g cacao powder and 225 g soft light brown sugar and stir to combine (the recipe says you should sieve the flour ad cacao powder first, but I usually can’t be bothered). Beat in 175 g melted butter (just pop it in the microwave for not even a minute), 4 egg yolks (you will need the whites later), 60 ml very strong cooled coffee and 3 tbsp water. Whisk the egg whites until stiff (add a pinch of salt to make it easier, you should be able to turn the bowl upside down over your head without any of the contents shifting) and fold into the cake mix. Pour in the tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Give the tin a tap by banging it gently on your work surface (you may want to put a towel in between for the noise) which will remove any air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 35 min, then reduce the temperature to 150 C for another 20 min until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 min then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the coffee butter icing: place 100 g softened butter (if you keep your butter in the fridge, just pop it in the microwave for 15-20 min) in a large bowl and beat in 200 g icing sugar and 3-4 tbsp cooled very strong coffee. If your butter is too soft, it will become runny (as it did in my little experiment) but you can pop it in the fridge for am hour or so to stiffen up (I didn’t have time for that and went for the nice drizzled option).

Now you can assemble: using a bread knife, split the cake horizontally and spread about a third of the icing on the lower half with a palette knife (or any big knife will do). Place the other half on top and spread the rest of the icing over it. You can limit it to the top so you see the layers, or you can go all the way round the sides as well, up to you! As a decoration, add chocolate curls, easter eggs, or any other decoration you want. It’s best to let the cake settle for 30 min before cutting and it will easily keep overnight as well. Enjoy while listening to Make me smile by Cockney Rebel!