Coffee Walnut Cake
What’s Light, Refreshing and More-ish? Coffee Walnut Cake
Friends were coming over for a late afternoon garden get together. They were bringing most of the food but it was my job to make the dessert. It was too warm and I didn’t feel like doing anything major but it HAD to be GOOD and for me, it had to be light and more-ish!Looking through my recipes, I found all sorts of things that took too much time or that needed umpteen steps before I’d be finished – I didn’t have the time or the energy for all of that. I also found lots of desserts that looked great but would weigh you down after eating lots of barbequed whatevers and potato salad, etc.
Time was getting short and I had to come up with something – but what? Then I found it – a coffee and walnut layer cake with coffee butter cream icing – in amongst recipes I’d been collecting for years.
It wasn’t exactly what you might call a summertime dessert but as I read the recipe, I thought if I changed this and updated that we would have a light, refreshing dessert that would go down a treat. So instead of it being a layer cake, I decided to make it one layer but bigger (to feed the hoard coming over!). Adding the coffee flavoured syrup meant the cake wouldn’t be at all dry and hard to swallow. The butter cream icing would melt in the heat and would make it heavy so out with that and in with a light, refreshing mascarpone cream with a great coffee favour. Right, that was it. And I could stop off at the supermarket to get just the two things I didn’t already have – the mascarpone and the crème fraiche, everything else was already in my cupboards.
Putting it together wouldn’t take any time at all and the baking was for only 30 minutes, so I could do it all the day before and stick it in the fridge so the cream would be really cold and scrumptious.
It’s great when a plan comes together but they didn’t leave me even one crumb!
Recipe: Coffee Walnut Cake With Mascarpone
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder mixed
with 2 tablespoons boiling water
85g (3 ½ oz) walnut halves, finely chopped & 10 walnut halves reserved
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs at room temperature
175g (6 oz) softened butter
175g (6 oz) golden caster sugar
2 tablespoon instant espresso powder
100g (4 oz) golden caster sugar
100ml (4 fl oz) boiling water
200 ml crème fraiche (half fat)
2 t. instant espresso coffee powder
6 T. light brown sugar
Or if you would rather have butter cream icing, use this recipe
Combine 250g. butter, 400g. icing sugar and 100 ml strong coffee. Spread all over the top of the cake.
1. Lightly grease and line a 26cm (10 inch) round baking tin with parchment paper (you can use a square baking tin instead or double the recipe for a tray tin). Pre-heat the oven to 325°F, 170°C, gas mark 3.
2. Toast all of the walnuts. Spread them on a baking sheet and put into a pre-heated oven for 7-8 minutes (no more – they burn easily). Allow them to cool. Reserve 10 walnut halves for the decoration and finely chop the rest.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, hold the sieve fairly high over the bowl so the flour and baking powder get a good airing on the way down. Put the rest of the other ingredients (except the coffee and walnuts) into the bowl and whisk (with a hand mixer or balloon whisk) until everything is well blended, then fold in the coffee and chopped walnuts. (Your batter should be a soft and drops off the spoon easily. If it’s too thick, add a spot of water and mix well.) Spread the mixture evenly in the cake pan, then put it onto the centre shelf of the oven, bake for 30 minutes. The cake should feel springy when done.
4. Make up the syrup and topping while the cake is cooking. Put the coffee and sugar in a heatproof cup or bowl, pour over the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Set aside until the cake is cooked.
5. To make the topping, put all the topping ingredients together, blend thoroughly. Cover and chill until needed.
6. Once the cake is cooked, take out of the oven but leave it in the tin. Prick all over with a skewer while still hot, spoon over the syrup (as evenly as possible|), and leave in the tin for the cake to soak up the liquid as it cools.
7. When the cake is absolutely cold, carefully turn onto a plate and peel off the parchment paper. Spread the topping mixture over the cake. Arrange the reserved walnut halves in a circle on the cake and chill or serve. Store remainder in the fridge.
Make the cake look lovely by making swirls in the topping (frosting):
For making the swirls in the topping or frosting, simply use a cold pallet knife* and starting in the middle, swirl toward the outer edge. Space the swirls about the same distance apart.
You will have some excess topping when you’ve finished with the swirls, just plop it into the middle, tidy it into a small mound and put your walnuts around the edges and on top of the center mound.
*To get your pallet knife cold, put under cold running water for a minute, then dry off quickly and use. If it doesn’t glide easily, make it cold again.
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