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 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:
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!