Coffee and Walnut Cake
This cake has always been in our repertoire but I very nearly didn’t include it in this book, as it seems so old-fashioned – a far cry from a cronut. Yet it’s the baking equivalent of the nautilus: it has been around for years but still has amazing appeal. To avoid any outcry, I decided I had better include it.
The reason for its popularity is probably that walnuts and coffee are a fantastic flavour combination. And, as so often in baking, a bit of nostalgia might also be behind its enduring success. Here is the recipe as we present it in the shops. It’s pretty traditional and has not yet been subjected to remastering into the ‘flat white’ equivalent of coffee cakes. Perhaps this is going to be your bake-off challenge.
|150g||salted butter, softened|
|1½ tbsp||ground coffee|
|1 tsp||instant coffee, dissolved in just enough hot water to make a paste|
|3||medium eggs, beaten|
|For the coffee syrup:|
|1 tbsp||instant coffee|
|For the frosting:|
|½||quantity of Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe link in Instructions below)|
|1 tbsp||instant coffee, mixed to a paste with a little hot water|
|For the caramelised walnuts (optional):|
|2 tbsp||caster sugar|
|50g||whole or halved walnuts|
You will need an electric mixer and a 21cm round baking tin.
Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. To give this cake a slightly rustic look, cut a 36cm square of baking parchment, run it under the tap to wet it, then scrunch it into a ball. Wring out the excess water, open the paper up again and mould it into a 21cm round cake tin. Where it creases, you will later have the lines that give the cake an authentic look. If you prefer straight sides, simply butter the tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Sift the flour and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, caster sugar and ground coffee together until pale and fluffy. Mix in the ground walnuts and the coffee paste.
Beat in about a quarter of the eggs, then reduce the speed and add a tablespoon of the flour. Repeat the process until all the egg is mixed in, then gently fold in the remainder of the flour.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
While the cake is in the oven, prepare the coffee syrup: put the honey and sugar in a small saucepan, add 75ml water and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the instant coffee and stir until dissolved.
If you are including the caramelised walnuts, put the sugar in a small, heavy-based pan, add 3 tablespoons of water and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer until it starts to thicken, then add the walnuts. Cook, stirring, until all the water has evaporated and the walnuts are caramelised, then remove them from the pan and spread them out on a piece of baking parchment. It doesn’t matter if the nuts stick together a little bit but they shouldn’t all clump together.
Turn the cake out of the tin, remove the baking parchment and put the cake on a cake board or flat plate. Prick the surface a few times with a fork, more so around the edges than the middle. Using a pastry brush, brush the coffee syrup on the top, starting around the edge and moving into the middle. You can also brush the sides a little bit. Do this while the cake and syrup are still a little warm, as the syrup will be absorbed more easily. Leave to soak and set in the fridge for 1 hour.
Make the frosting - recipe here. Mix the frosting with the instant coffee paste. Using a spoon or palette knife, spread the frosting over the top of the cake. Serve as is or decorate with a border of caramelised walnuts.