A while ago now I did a post about Nigella Lawson's new book 'KITCHEN' - and what a wonderful book it is. At the time, I remember coming across the Coffee and Walnut cake recipe and thinking 'That's a keeper' and making a mental note of the ingredients. Specifically, espresso powder which I knew I had run out of. You might be thinking, is espresso powder not just coffee ? Well, it's similar, but different and as Cupcake would say, 'the clue's in the name'. This is a lot stronger than normal coffee; eg like espresso and it is also a smooth powder rather than the instant granules. Espresso powder is used in a lot of coffee recipes for that depth of taste, and probably for it's powder rather than grainy texture.
So, why was I making coffee cake ? Well, Biscuit Boy and I (and Cupcake too) love going out for coffee and cake at the weekend. There is a really pretty garden center, really near to where we sometimes go for a jog on the weekend, as we did this weekend, and so we usually find ourselves in there eating coffee cake and drinking large mocha coffees. Bliss after a chilly run. This cake tastes good, it's also more that £2.00 per slice which is rather expensive. Of course, I love a challenge so I wanted to make a coffee cake that would rival the one from the Garden Center, not only on cost but also on taste too.
For once, I followed the recipe to the letter.. well, kind of, I only changed two things. Firstly, I didn't have 2 cake tins, well I did, but the bottom from one of my 'loose-bottomed' tins no longer fit the tin... It had somehow warped and would not fit in the bottom. So, I resorted to plan B and put all of the cake mixture into one big tin and then extended the cooking time. I also chopped the large cake through the middle once cool to make my two halves. My other problem was that I had no baking powder and as you will see the recipe calls for two and a half teaspoons of the stuff... What to do ?? So I looked online for an alternative and learned that you can make it using Cream of Tartar and Bicarbonate of Soda, or you could if you had some Cream of Tartar, which I didn't. I did find some Liquid Glucose and some Stem Ginger that I'd forgotten about though. Anyway, I'm rambling, what I did was add an extra teaspoon of bicarb and I also added another two tablespoons of self-raising flour, as I know this contains baking powder... and then I just kind of crossed my fingers..
As I had no idea how long the cake would take to cook, I did keep opening and closing the oven door and every time I did that I was sure I was jinxing my cake into coming out as flat as a pancake, but to my total pleasure it rose considerably and also did not deflate the minute it came out of the oven. Excellent.
Here is the recipe.
Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake
For the sponge:
50gr walnut pieces
225gr caster sugar
225gr soft unsalted butter (I used margarine), plus some for greasing
200gr plain flour
4tsp instant espresso powder
2.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2 x 15ml tbsp milk
For the frosting:
350gr icing sugar
175gr soft unsalted butter (I used 'utterly butterly - a lower fat buttery margarine - it worked well)
2.5 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 x 15ml boiling water
25gr walnut halves to decorate (I used the rest of the packet of walnut pieces as I didn't have any halves..)
2 x 20 cm sandwich tins (or one large cake tin - as I used)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg c/gas mark 4.
2. Butter the cake tin(s) and line the base with baking parchment if you wish - I didn't..
3. Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and whizz to a nutty powder. Add the butter, flour, espresso powder, baking powder, bicarb and eggs and process until all mixed.
4. Add the milk, pouring it down the funnel and pulse the food processor to loosen the mixture.
5. Divide the mixture between the two tins (or put in one tin, as I did).
6. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the top is springy. (If you use one tin, the cake will take a lot longer to cook, check it after 30 minutes, and every 5-10 minutes after that. Again, until springy to the touch.)
7. Cool the cakes on a wire rack.
... and now for the buttercream
1. Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor (to get rid of any lumps).
2. Add the butter and pulse until you have a smooth icing.
3. Add the coffee that has been dissoved in the boiling water to the processor, and pulse again to mix.
4. Do not frost the cake until it is cool. (Otherwise the frosting seeps into the sponge, which actually I quite like.. :o))
5. Take one of the cake, (or cut the one cake in half horizontally, as I did) and add about half of the frosting to one half of the sandwich. Place the other half of the cake on the top of the frosted one.
6. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake in a rustic, swirly pattern.
7. Press walnut halves (or pieces) into the top of the cake.
8. My sponge was a little warm, so I put it all in a cool place to cool down nicely.
Serve and Enjoy !!
I also made this cake as a bribe to Biscuit Boy to lay the kitchen flooring. Trouble is the cake is now all gone and he is refusing to continue with it until I make another cake. I am refusing to make a cake until the floor is done.... and so the Circle of Life and Love continues...